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This study of the influence of the French Revolution on 
Scotland was accepted by the University of Edinburgh as 
a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Letters. Its main theme 
is the political awakening of Scotland. I have therefore 
devoted considerable attention to the various reform move- 
ments which either originated in the political upheaval of 
the period or were stimulated by it. I have tried to show, 
more briefly, that although the dread of innovation suspended 
the activity of the reformers for a time, the Reform Bill of 
1832 was due, in part at least, to the agitation engendered 
forty years before. An attempt has also been made to trace 
the effects of the French Revolution in other departments 
of the national life, chiefly social and ecclesiastical, and to 
describe the role assigned to Scotland in French schemes for 
invading the British Isles. Though I am indebted to the 
recent works of Professor Hume Brown, and Dr. W. Law 
Mathieson, the ampler space at my disposal has enabled me 
to draw largely on unpublished material, and to give a fuller 
account of a somewhat neglected aspect of Scottish history 
than has hitherto been possible. 

I take this opportunity of acknowledging the courtesy of 
the officials of the British Museum, London, and of the 
University, Advocates', Signet, and S.S.C. Libraries, Edin- 
burgh. In examining the Scottish manuscripts in the 
Public Record Office, London, I was greatly assisted by Mr. 



Hubert Hall ; and the same kindness was extended to 
me by M. le Sous-Directeur des Archives and his colleagues 
at the Foreign Office, Paris. My heartiest thanks are due 
to my friends. Dr. W. Law Mathieson, and Mr. Alexander 
Robertson, M.A., B.Litt., New College, Oxford, for their 
careful and suggestive reading of the proofs. In connection 
with the whole work. Professor Hume Brown has been to 
me an unfaihng source of help and encouragement. 

Finally, I have to record the generosity of the Carnegie 
Trust for the Universities of Scotland. The research was 
begun during the tenure of a Carnegie Scholarship, which 
was supplemented by successive grants ; and the publication 
of the results has been facilitated by a further grant from the 
same Trust. 

University of Edinburgh, 
October^ 191 2. 




Characteristics of Scottish eighteenth century history - - xv 

Causes of pohtical apathy - - - - - - xvi 

Political condition in 1782 ------ xviii 



Effects of the American War ----- i 

Scotland and the Rockinghams ----- 2 

Logan's Runjtainede - ^ 

Party spirit -------- 5 

The Yorkshire Committee and Scottish reform - - - 5 

Convention of county reformers ----- 8 

The county franchise g 

"Parchment Barons" g 

Proposed legislation - - - - - - 11 

Test cases - - - - - - - -11 

Lord Buchan and the representation of the Scottish peers - 12 



Influence of the American Revolution - - - - 14 

And of the literary revival - - - - - - 15 

Letters of Zeno ------- 15 

Convention of burgh reformers - - - - - 18 

Grievances of the burgesses ----- 

Municipal Reform Bill ------ 22 

Test cases -------- 22 

Petitions in Parliament ------ 23 



Opposition of Henry Dundas ----- 24 

Dundas and Pitt's reform schemes - - - - 24 

Career of Dundas ------- 27 

His power in Scotland ------ 29 

Reform limited to gentry and middle classes - - - 33 

Popular interest in ecclesiastical affairs - - - - 34 

History of the patronage controversy - - • "35 

Revived in 1782 ------- 35 

Pamphlets -------- 36 

Triumph of the Moderates in 1784 - - - - 3B 

Significance of the agitation . . - . , 40 


Progress of reform - - - - - - - 41 

The centenary of 1688 41 

The Scottish press on the French Revolution - - - 43 

Address of the Dundee Whig Club - - - - 44 

Mons. B de's Reflections - - - - - 46 

Scottish enthusiasm for the Revolution - - - - 49 

Burke's Reflections - - - - - - - 50 

Its reception in Scotland - - - - - - 51 

Christie's Letters - - - - - - - 53 

Influence of Christie - - - - - - 56 

Mackintosh's Vindiciae Gallicae - - - - -56 

Appreciations by his Scottish friends - - - - 59 

Case of Robert Haldane ------ 60 

Paine's Rights of Man - - - - - - 61 

The new social conditions ------ 62 


Unrest later in Scotland than in England - - - 67 

Efforts to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts - - - 67 

Fall of the Bastille commemorated in Scotland - - - 70 

Proceedings condemned by the authorities - - - 72 

The Corn Law of 1791 ------ 72 

Scottish protests ------- 73 

Dundas and burgh reform ----- - 74 

Dundas and the slave trade - - - - - 77 

Rise of political societies in England - - - - 78 




The Proclamation against Seditious Writings 
Riots in Scotland . - - - 

Official explanations - - - - 

The real causes . . - - 

Reform compromised . . _ 



The first Scottish society ----- 

Growth of Scottish periodical publications 
The Political Review of Edinburgh Periodical Publications 
The Bee ....... 

The Edinburgh Friends of the People 
Branches established in the east and west 
Their organisation ------ 

Reports of H. Dundas to Pitt and Grenville 
Trees of Liberty at Perth and Dundee 
Dread of revolution in Scotland - - - - 

Discontent of the lower classes - . - - 

The English militia embodied . - . . 

The Goldsmiths' Hall Association formed 
The burgh reformers and the Friends of the People 
The First General Convention of the Friends of the People 
Prominent members ------ 

Its proceedings 

Alarm of the Government ----- 



Trial of Tytler - - - - - - - 112 

Trials of printers and publishers - - - - - 113 

Prosecution of the author of the Political Progress of Britaifi - 113 

Thomas Muir arrested and liberated on bail - - - 114 

Loyal addresses - - - - - - - 115 

The Government and the press - - - - - 116 

Anti-reform pamphlets - - - - - - 117 

Macleod's Letters to the Friends oj the People - - - 118 

Poems of Wilson and Burns - - - - - 120 

The Friends of the People discouraged - - - - 122 

Their resolutions against the war - - - - - 124 

The Second General Convention of the Friends of the People - 125 

Grey's reform petition rejected by the House of Commons - 126 




- 84 


- 87 

- 89 


- 96 


- 103 

- 104 

- 105 
1 10 




Burgh and county reform movements suspended- - - 126 

Continued protests of the Friends of the People against the war 128 

Arrest of Palmer - - - - - - - 129 

Return and arrest of Muir - - - - - - 129 

Their trials -------- 131 

Indignation at home and abroad ----- 135 

The trials discussed in Parliament _ _ _ . 136 



Activity of the Scottish P^riends of the People - - - I37 

Proposals for an international convention - - - - 138 

The Third General Convention of the Friends of the People - 139 

Arrival of delegates from English societies - - - I39 

The British Convention ------ 140 

Leaders arrested ------- 141 

Their trials -------- 142 

Their political ideals 143 

Effects of the trials at home and abroad - - - - 144 

Continued unrest ------- 147 

Lords-lieutenant appointed - - - - - - 148 

Reports of the Parliamentary Committees of Secrecy - - 149 
Watt's conspiracy - - - - - - -150 

Trials of Watt and Downie - - - - - 150 

Reign of Terror in Scotland - - - - - i53 

The Volunteer movement - - - - - - I53 

Repression of liberal tendencies - - - - - ^55 

Failure of crops - - - - - - - 157 

Popular discontent - - - - - - - 158 

The Treason and Seditious Meetings Bills - - - 158 

Henry Erskine deprived of his Deanship - - - - i59 



France and the British Democrats . - . - 161 

Reports of Petry and Oswald on Scotland - - - 164 

Foreign policy of the Committee of PubHc Safety - - 165 

The Directory and the United Irishmen - - - - 167 

Mission of Mengaud to Scotland ----- 168 

Failure of the expedition to Ireland - . - - 169 

Preparations at the Texel - - - - - - 170 

Battle of Camperdown - - - - - - 171 




Arjnee cP Angleterre formed - - - - - 171 

Scots expected to welcome the French - - - - 171 

Arrival of Thomas Muir in France - - - - 172 

His memorials on the state of Scotland - - - - 174 

Invasion of Britain abandoned ----- 177 

Death of Muir ------- 177 



Britain's dark days - - - - - - - 178 

Scotland demands a militia in 1760 and 1782 - - - 178 

The Scottish Militia Act of 1797 - - - - - I79 

The Tranent and other riots - - - - - 180 

The Act enforced ------- 183 

The Lord Advocate and the Scots Chronicle - - - 183 

Disorders ascribed to Jacobinism ----- 185 

Agent of the London Corresponding Society in Scotland - 186 

The organisation of the United Scotsmen - - - 186 

The Trial of Mealmaker ------ 188 

The "United" in Britain and Ireland . - - - 189 

The last of the United Scotsmen ----- 193 



The Church and the political ferment - - - 

- 194 

Clergy rewarded by Government - - - - 

- 195 

Episcopal and Roman Catholic Relief Bills 


Secret State aid to Scottish Roman Catholics 


Seceders suspected of disloyalty - - - - 

- 197 

The Old and the New Lights . . - . 


The failure of Moderatism - - - - - 


The French Revolution and religious zeal 


The General Assembly and missions 


The Haldanes and the Bengal mission scheme - 


The Haldanes and itinerant lay preaching 


Indignation of ordained preachers - - - - 

- 208 

"The Pastoral Letter" - . - . - 


The Seceders and lay preaching - 


Robison's Proofs of a Cojispiracy - - - - 

21 1 

Proposed Bill against unlicensed preaching 


Haldane's Address on Politics . - . - 




CONCLUSION. 1802-1832 


Fear of invasion ------- 214 

Influence of the French Revolution on Scottish reform - - 215 

The Edinburgh Review - - - - - - 216 

Whigs in office - - - - - 217 

Impeachment of Melville ------ 217 

Cotton spinners' strike of 1812 ----- 218 

Corn Law of 1815 - - - - - - - 220 

Political societies revived - - - - - -221 

State Trials of 1817 223 

Renewed agitation for burgh reform . . . - 225 

The "Radical War" - 226 

Law reforms -------- 230 

The Scottish press - - - - - - - 231 

The Beacon and the Sentinel ----- 232 

The powers of the Lord Advocate . . . - 233 

End of the Dundas influence . _ - - - 233 

Jeffrey Lord Advocate ------ 235 

Coalition of Whigs and Radicals - - - - - 235 

The Reform Bill ------- 236 

The memory of the " Pohtical Martyrs" - - - - 238 



A. The Minutes of the First General Convention of the Friends 

of the People in Scotland ----- 239 

B. List of Societies represented at the Second General Con- 

vention of the Friends of the People in Scotland- - 274 

C. Letter of Henry Dundas on the defence of Scotland, March 7, 

1797 -------- 276 


INDEX 308 

Erratum. Page 127, line g,for '■Dundas'' read '■Montgomery.^ 


Scotland in the eighteenth century is characterised by a 
variety of interests not to be found in any other period 
of its history. The poverty of the country had hitherto 
hindered the growth of a rich civihsation such as was to 
be found in England or France ; but after the Union of 
1707, and more especially after the Torty-Five, its material 
prosperity advanced by leaps and bounds. The linen and 
woollen manufactures received a fresh lease of life ; coal 
and iron mines were opened up ; Gothish methods " in 
agriculture gave place to a system which included the 
rotation of crops and the use of manures ; the modern 
plough and the threshing-machine were invented ; new 
roads, canals, and bridges increased the means of com- 

This material prosperity was accompanied by the long 
delayed Renaissance of Letters. The intellect of the coun- 
try, freed from the turmoil of dynastic and ecclesiastical 
disputes, turned to the more liberal studies of literature and 
science. It was in this connection, indeed, that Scotland 
made its special contribution to the history of civilisation ; 
for, while industrial progress was a feature of Great Britain 
as a whole, in Scotland there was also a conspicuous literary 
activity, which, within a comparatively brief period, pro- 
duced a series of works destined to enjoy a vogue not only 
at home but abroad. Hume and Reid in philosophy, Adam 



Smith in political economy, Black and Hutton in science, 
Macpherson in poetry, Hume and Robertson in history, all 
won European fame, and Edinburgh almost outrivalled 
Paris as the intellectual capital of the world. ^ 

While industrially and intellectually Scotland by 1780 
was thus an awakened country, politically it was still asleep. 
This was largely due to the lack of a constitutional element 
in its history. A small country with but a scanty popula- 
tion, divided by racial hatred, and clan and family rivalries, 
scarcely afforded an opportunity for such development. The 
Scottish Parliament, for example, remained to the end of its 
existence a feudal assembly. It had little influence on the 
national history. In its earlier stages it was a baron court 
registering the decrees of whatever party happened to be in 
power. Later, as from 1640 to 165 1, it endeavoured to 
emulate the Parliament of England, but such spasmodic 
efforts were revolutionary rather than evolutionary, and 
the changes then introduced were quickly reversed. Even 
during this period it was much less influential than the 
General Assembly of the Kirk. Under the new conditions 
of the Revolution Settlement, it had barely time to show 
its capacity as a legislative and dehberative body, when it 
was merged in the Parliament of Great Britain. 

Local institutions might still have served to arouse an 
interest in public affairs, but these were wanting in all but 
name. The freedom of the burghs had been early crushed. 
In 1469 it had been enacted that the old town council should 
choose the new, and that the two together should appoint 
the officers of the burgh. This Act rendered impossible 
any healthy political life in the towns since even the 
Scottish burgh representatives at Westminster were chosen 

^ Hume Brown, Hist, of Scot. iii. 371 ; v. The Learning of the Scots in 
the Eighteenth Century., an article by the present writer in the Scot. Hist. 
Rev. April 1910. It is mainly a reprint of a contemporary pamphlet. 



by delegates from the town councils. In the counties, 
the franchise was of such a restricted nature that in 1788 
there were only 2662 voters on the freeholders' roll. The 
issues at stake in the elections were mainly personal, and 
Wilkes is reported to have refused to interfere in a Scottish 
election petition on the ground that he could discern no 
principle in the strife of Goth against Goth." 

There was little in such family politics to commend them 
to the nation at large. Some of the better minds of the 
age had welcomed the Union for the very reason that place- 
hunting and its attendant evils would be abolished, and 
that, in the language of Mar, Scotsmen would be at liberty 
" to live at peace and ease, and mind their affairs and the 
improvement of their country — a much better employment 
than the politics." ^ This improvement, as the Jacobite 
Risings had shown, was bound up with the Hanoverian 
succession ; so that public opinion, as reflected in the pulpit, 
in the teaching of the universities, and in the newspapers 
of the time, was strongly Revolution Whig. Politics were 
dynastic rather than party, and opposition to the Administra- 
tion in London was denounced as disloyalty to the reigning 

The Wilkes crisis, to which some historians have traced 
the rise of modern political agitation, could not appeal to 
Scotsmen. It was against a Scot that the invective of 
Wilkes was directed, and the subservient Scottish members 
were the supporters of the prerogative that was assailed. 
The people of North Britain, therefore, unanimously sup- 
ported the King and their fellow-countryman, Bute, his 
unpopular Minister. It would be a mistake, however, to 
assign to this incident the conscious turning away of the 
Scots from participation in what was regarded as English 

* Cromarty Correspond, ii. 20, cited by W. L. Mathieson, Scotland and 
the Union, 159. 



political life. In contemporary pamphlets and newspapers 
it is the industrial development of the country that is dwelt 
upon in answer to the sneers of Wilkes. This national pre- 
occupation finds a striking illustration in the proceedings of 
the Select Society, a club formed avowedly on the model of 
the French Academy. Its debates for the year 1757 are 
all of an economic character, ^ and when some of the same 
" Literati " founded the Poker Club in 1762 " to stir up the 
fire and spirit of the nation,*' it was patriotic rather than 
political in its aims. George Dempster of Dunnichen wrote 
to Dr. Carlyle of Inveresk, one of its promoters, that when 
they got their mihtia, they ought to agitate for Parliamentary 
reform " so as to let the industrious farmer and manufacturer 
share at least in a privilege now engrossed by the great 
lord, the drunken laird, and the drunkener baiUie " ; but 
the suggestion bore no fruit. 2 

Exactly twenty years later, in 1782, Mrs. Hamilton, the 
authoress of The Cottagers of Glenhiirnie, could thus describe 
the apathy prevailing in her native land. " The people 
here are not such great politicians as in Ireland," she wrote 
to her brother. " There, politics engross the greatest part 
of discourse in every county, and man, woman, and child, 
enter as zealously into every debate, as if they had been 
perfectly acquainted with all the hidden springs of govern- 
ment. The people here pretend to no such knowledge, but 
whatever changes happen, either in ministry or constitution, 
they seem to adopt the maxim of Mr. Pope, that ' whatever 
is, is right.' " She referred to a recent speech of a Scottish 
gentleman who had declared that " as that man was esteemed 
the best sportsman that brought down the most birds, so 
was he the best representative that brought the best pensions 

^ J. Rae, Life of Adam Smithy no. 
Edin. University MSS.^ Letters of Dr. Carlyle^ No. 90 ; Rae, op. cit. 



and places to his countrymen/' ^ Yet this very year saw 
the beginning of a movement, which, in the fulness of time, 
was to lead to a vigorous political life in Scotland, and to 
take away the reproach thus expressed by the Encyclope- 
distes : " L'Ecosse a ete redoutable tant qu'elle n'a pas ete 
incorporee avec I'Angleterre ; mais, comme dit M. Voltaire, 
un etat pauvre, voisin d'un riche, devient venal a la longue ; 
et c'est aussi le malheur que TEcosse eprouve/' ^ 

^ Benger, Me7noirs of Mrs. E. Hamilton^ i. 89. The speech referred to 
was that of Boswell of Auchinleck ; v. CaL Mer. Nov. 16, 1782. Hume 
Brown, Hist, of Scot. iii. 377. 

2 Diderot and d'Alembert, Encyclopedie^ art. Ecosse. 



The American War of Independence exercised a considerable 
influence on the thought and action of England, Ireland, and 
France. To the same source may be traced the first signs of 
the political awakening of Scotland. There the progress 
of the war was closely followed. About 1779, the ill- 
success of the British arms began to produce what Dr. Somer- 
ville of Jedburgh calls a great change in the sentiments of 
the nation at large.'' " The discussion of this subject," he 
says, ** not only engaged the attention of public bodies of 
men, but became a principal object of conversation in every 
company, and often excited angry debates which impaired 
the pleasures of social life, and weakened the confidence of 
friendship." ^ To judge by the resolutions of its public 
bodies, the war had hitherto been highly popular in Scotland, 
though little weight can be attached to such resolutions 
passed in meetings practically closed to free expression of 
opinion.^ It is significant, therefore, that the editor of the 
Caledonian Mercury, the most widely circulated Scottish 
journal of the time, should have inserted in the first number 
for 1780 a note ** To the Reader," in which he apologised for 

1 Own Life^ 198-9. 

2 " I trust that although our county meetings and borough corporations 
were implicit worshippers of the Ministry, the people of Scotland, in 
general, thought differently." Letter in Cal. Mer. April 24, 1780. 



having paid proper deference to the different views regarding 
the war prevaiHng * ' even on this side of the Tweed " While 
one of the most learned and respectable societies in Scotland 
refused to subscribe supplies, or testify their approbation," he 
wrote, it would ill become the publisher of a newspaper, 
however clear in his own opinion, to treat all opposition to 
the measures of the Government as factious and unwise." ^ 

There is other evidence that the issues raised by the con- 
flict in America were rousing an unprecedented interest in 
public affairs. The Edinburgh Pantheon Debating Society, 
for example, the membership of which was on a popular 
basis, discussed such questions as : " Ought the present 
Ministry to be dismissed His Majesty's Councils ? " ** Should 
the American War be immediately terminated ? " ^ Less 
academic were the debates in the General Assembly of the 
Church. In May, 1782, the friends of the Rockingham 
Administration, led by Henry Erskine, the most popular 
advocate at the Bar, endeavoured to carry a motion con- 
gratulating His Majesty on the late change of Ministers, 
but their opponents were successful in defeating it.^ In 
April, the Provincial Synod of Glasgow, and the Freeholders 
and Commissioners of Supply of Kirkcudbright, had sent 
up addresses approving of the plans of economy proposed 
by the Government. The latter added a clause eulogising 

^ The learned society was the Faculty of Advocates. They refused to 
vote a grant from their funds for a regiment that was being raised in 
Edinburgh. They, however, recommended it to the private liberality of 
their members. History of the Rise, Opposition to^ and EstablishjJient oj 
the Edinburgh Regitnent^ Edin. 1778. 

^ Cat. Mer. Jan. 5, 12, 1782. For the history of this society, v. The 
Book of the Old Edin. Club, vol, i. Edin. 1908. The debates are not 

' The debate was reported at unusual length in the Cal. Mer. May 29, 
June I, 3, 5, 1782. Adam Smith was therefore not the "one just man in 
Gomorrah" to speak out for the Rockinghams. Countess of Minto, Life 
and Letters of Sir G. Elliot, i. 84. 


the King for " making the parhamentary sentiments of his 
people the rule of his choice of ministers/' " These 
addresses," commented the Scots Magazine, " are said to be 
the first of the kind from Scotland since the Union. ^ 

The reforms of Burke, therein commended, directly affected 
Scotland. The Board of Police was abolished, and it was 
publicly affirmed that its revenues were divided into pensions 
to Burke and Barre. " Every gazette," says Creech, the 
publisher, " teemed with addresses from all quarters. The 
contagion ... in a short time reached the north like the 
influenza which accompanied it. The first loyal address (and 
it was the last) from Scotland on the subject proceeded from 
the county nearest to England. The example was strenuously 
urged in Edinburgh by the friends of the new Ministry, and 
a meeting called by public advertisement for the purpose ; 
and, had it carried, would probably have been followed by 
the counties and boroughs throughout Scotland." To pre- 
vent this, an advertisement was inserted in the local press 
giving a circumstantial account of a meeting in which 
resolutions against the Ministry were carried.^ " These," 
says Creech, " created much speculation, and it was not 
generally known that there had been no such meeting of 
citizens till many months after the publication. They were 
the subject of much controversy in the London papers, and 
coinciding with the general sense of the nation, put a stop 
to the progress of loyal addresses." ^ 

1 Sco^s Mag. xliv. (1782), p. 277. Cf. J. Wilde : "The American War 
and the events which followed it, brought in names of attachment [into 
Scotland] ; the first of the sort since those had fallen, that chieftainship 
consecrated, or which marked the zeal of Jacobites and Whigs. ... I 
thought the Whiggism of the Rockingham connection was beginning to 
take root in Scotland." An Address to the lately formed Society of the 
Friends of the People^ Edin. 1793. 

2 Cal. Mer. June 22, 1782. 

^W. Creech, Edinburgh Fugitive Pieces, Edin. 181 5, pp. 4-9. The 
Pantheon Society negatived by a majority of 123 in an audience "more 


In 1783, the struggles of George III. to maintain his 
personal influence in the Government were represented to 
the inhabitants of Edinburgh in dramatic form. In that 
year, John Logan, better known to posterity as a minor 
poet, produced his Runnamede in the Theatre Royal, as it 
had been banned from the London stage by the censure of 
the Lord Chamberlain. ^ The parallel between King George 
and King John, the Whig magnates and the mediaeval 
barons was sufficiently clear, and the dramatist boldly 
announced the theme of his play as 

" One subject still a stranger to the stage, 
Fair liberty, the goddess of the Isle." 

But to the ideas conveyed by such phrases as, " the rights 
of Britons and the rights of men," " the majesty of all the 
people," 2 a Scottish audience proved as hostile as the 
official censor, and the piece only ran for one night. 

That the citizens of the capital faithfully reflected the 
feelings of the vast majority of the Scottish people was 

than the room could hold," a motion on The Propriety of addressing 
His Majesty on the Late Change of Ministry." Cal. Mer. July 17, 1782. 
The debate, contrary to custom, extended over three different meetings of 
the society. 

^ J. Logan, Poems and Runnamede^ a Tragedy^ new edition, with Life of 
the Author, Edin. 1805. J. Rae, Life of Adam Sfniih^ 396. For a con- 
temporary criticism, v. Scots Mag. 1784, p. 245. 

2 Act IV. 

John : The majesty of kings I will sustain 

And be a monarch, while I am a man. 

Elvine : The rights of Britons and the rights of men, 
Which never king did give, and never king 
Can take away. 

John : At whose tribunal can a king appear? 
Elvine : At the tribunal of the kingdom. 

John : Ha ! 

Before whose majesty can he be brought ? 
Elvine : Before the majesty of all the people. 


shown by the general satisfaction with which Pitt's accession 
to office in December, 1783, was hailed. It was with 
astonishment that they had seen Henry Erskine appointed 
by Fox and North to the post of Lord Advocate. That the 
leaders of faction should have controlled the administration 
of the country ran counter to all those notions of government 
which had prevailed in Scotland since the 'Fifteen and the 
'Forty-Five. The voting of loyal addresses was at once 
renewed. But the Coalition was not undefended. Lively 
proceedings occurred at a meeting in Glasgow where John 
Millar, Professor of Law in the university, urged delay in 
addressing the Crown. For the first time, it was noted, 
" hissing " was heard at a public gathering in that city,^ 
and when the general election took place later in the same 
year, the Caledonian Mercury reported that " never was 
there a period where the spirit of party ran so high." 2 

More unmistakable evidence of the awakening of the 
public mind, or, as a contemporary put it, that " the spirit 
of liberty had taken a northern turn," ^ is to be found in the 
demand that arose for county and burgh reform. This 
demand was but an echo of the general " cry for redress of 
grievances," which had been raised in England owing to 
the disastrous course of the American War. In 1779, a 
committee was formed among the freeholders of Yorkshire, 
long the stronghold of Whig territorial influence, to agitate 
for administrative reforms.* By the beginning of 1780, it 
had established a committee of correspondence to promote 
its views throughout the country. Numerous counties and 
towns signified their approval of the scheme, and in March, 
1780, deputies from similar associations met in conference 
in London, and drew up a series of resolutions pledging 

1 Cal. Mer. Mar. 3, 1784. 2 (^^i j^^y^ May 19, 1 784. 

3 Letter in Cal. Mer. April 14, 1783. 
* C. Wyvill, Political Papers^ i. passim. 


themselves to advocate Parliamentary reform, and to sup- 
port such candidates as were in sympathy with their 
proposals. These methods of organisation and propaganda 
were deemed by many unconstitutional. Would not the 
delegates intimidate the legislature ? Would not the asso- 
ciations eventually supplant Parliament ? Had not the 
Gordon Riots shown the danger of exciting public opinion 
in this way ? On these grounds, the Commons, in 1781, 
rejected the petition of the delegates, the Solicitor-General for 
Scotland reminding the House of the mischievous authority 
of such committees in his own country, during the religious 
upheaval of the seventeenth century. ^ These proceedings 
evoked much interest. In the pages of the Scots Magazine, 
prominence was given to the action of the delegates, and 
its legality discussed in the light of the writings of Locke 
and Machiavelli ; ^ while the Pantheon Society debated 
the question, " Does the present conduct of Opposition in 
procuring County Associations tend to the real advantage of 
the British Empire ? ^ The Yorkshire Committee did not 
limit its operations to England. Its aim was to enlist the 
help of sympathisers throughout the British Isles, and its 
manifestoes were circulated in Scotland and Ireland. In 
May, 1782, Pitt, who had espoused the cause, moved for 
an inquiry into the state of the representation of the country. 
The motion was defeated, but this only stimulated the 
reformers to make further efforts. In November, the York- 
shire Committee issued a circular letter recommending a 
plan of reform embodied in four resolutions. In the last of 
these it was suggested that support should be extended to 
" the application of any county in Scotland for setting aside 
nominal and fictitious votes, and for regulating elections to 
Parliament in that part of the kingdom in a manner agree- 

^ Par/. Hist. xxii. 164. ^ Scots Mag. 1780, Jan., Feb., April. 

^Cal. Mer. April i, 1780. 



able to the true intent and spirit of the Constitution." ^ 
This circular was forwarded to all town councils, sheriffs, 
and sheriff-substitutes in Scotland, and to such well-known 
men as Adam Ferguson, Professor of Moral Philosophy in 
the University of Edinburgh, and Gilbert Stuart, the his- 
torian. The Corporation of Glasgow stated in a cautious 
reply that it " could not sufficiently applaud the moderation 
and true public spirit of the Yorkshire Committee in resolving 
to abandon any of those propositions that shall not receive 
the approbation and concurrence of a decided majority of 
the principal Towns and Counties who support the claim 
of Parliamentary Reformation." ^ Xhe Sheriff of Moray 
indicated the steps which were being taken by the counties 
to effect a change in the election laws.^ Stuart and Ferguson 
were keenly alive to the opposition likely to be encountered. 
*' My own earnest wish," wrote the latter, has long been, 
that we had the same law of Parliament with you as far 
as relates to county elections, but I confess that I do not 
hope ever to obtain it." * "I believe," Stuart wrote to 
Lord Buchan in commendation of the Committee's proposals, 
" that there exists in Scotland an inclement faction of men 
who are enemies of the freedom of our constitution, and 
who would gladly seek for the true order of government 
in the dead calm of Despotism." ^ 

Commenting on these letters, Wyvill observes that the 
communication of the Yorkshire freeholders with Ferguson 
and Stuart was probably the first from any public body 
of men in England which evidenced a disposition to extin- 
guish every remaining spark of those animosities which the 
writings of Mr. Wilkes, in opposition to Lord Bute, had 

^ Wyvill, op. cit. ii. 21. Ibid. No. x. 82-5. ^ y^/^^ ^2-3. 

^ Ibid. iv. 215-6. Ferguson, however, was not in favour of the Com- 
mittee's scheme. 

^ Ibid. 200. 


been too successfully employed to excite. . . . The Yorkshire 
Committee felt the impropriety of such conduct, and with a 
manly frankness, held forth to their worthy fellow-citizens 
in Scotland the right hand of conciliation/' ^ If Wyvill ex- 
aggerates the importance of the Wilkes controversy in tending 
to keep Scotland outside the pale of English politics, he does 
not over-estimate the significance of the action of those whom 
he represented. The example and encouragement of Eng- 
land lasted during the fifty years' struggle for reform. A 
bond of sympathy united the reformers and, to an equal 
degree, the anti-reformers in both countries, and a common 
interest in the burning question of the day rendered the 
Union of 1707, on its political side, complete. 

County reform, to which Wyvill's circular had referred, 
was begun in 1782. ^ In the spring and summer of that 
year, the counties of Inverness, Moray, and Caithness, 
appointed commissioners to consider the question of nominal 
and fictitious votes, and, in August, a general meeting of the 
delegates of twenty-three counties was held in Edinburgh.^ 
A committee was appointed to draft a Bill to remedy the 
anomalies in their representation and to raise subscriptions 
to meet expenses. At the same time a series of Letters 
from an Old Freeholder " appeared in the press.* In these, 
the case for reform was put forward with ability and learn- 
ing, and the circumstances which rendered it imperative 
were stated. A cloud was hanging over the constitution, 
and every man who loved his country was called upon to 
restore its original purity.^ " Suffer me," he wrote, " to 
rouse you from that lethargy which has become universal.'' ^ 

MVyvill, op. cit. iv. 197-8. 

2 Not 1783 as in W. L. Mathieson, The Awakening of Scotland, 100. 

3 Cal Mer. July 31, Aug. 7, 1782. 

^ Ibid. Aug. 31, 1782, reprinted in Scots Mag. Jan. and Feb. 1783. 
^ Scots Mag. 1783, p. 66. ^ /^/^. 



The county franchise, to which attention was thus 
directed, was based on feudal tenure. ^ Originally, all per- 
sons holding land from the Crown were under obligation 
to attend Parliament. Since in early times this privilege 
was little valued and considered burdensome, a number of 
Acts, dating from 1427, gradually built up a system of 
representation of the " smaller barons.*' The last of these 
enactments, that of 1681, fixed the qualification of electors, 
with slight modifications, down to 1832. According to its 
provisions, the county electors were those who possessed 
either in property or superiority land, holden of the Crown, 
valued at forty shillings in the auld extent " — a valuation 
said to have been made in the time of Alexander III. Where 
the old extent was not known, an elector was qualified if 
he held land in capita assessed by the Land Tax Com- 
missioners at £400 Scots. The only change introduced at 
the Union was the reduction of the number of county repre- 
sentatives to thirty. 

The abuses which had crept into this system were due to 
the fact that the franchise was vested, not in the land, but 
in the superiority. From this peculiarity a practice arose, 
soon after the Union, of creating " Parchment Barons," for 
the purpose of holding what were called " Nominal and 
Fictitious " votes. Peers or wealthy landowners, anxious 
to increase their importance in the county and with the 
Government, conveyed pieces of land of the necessary value, 
in trust only, to their friends. The title deeds were not 
registered, and were destroyed after they had served their 
purpose for an election. An Act of 1714 put an end to 
this by providing that every voter, when challenged, was 

1 E. and A. Porritt, T^g Unreformed House of Commons, ii. chaps. 35, 
39 ; W. L. Mathieson, op. cit. 17-20 ; R. Bell, Treatise on Election Laws ; 
A. Connell, Treatise on Election Laws, passim ; C. E. Adam, View of the 
Political State of Scotland in 1788, in trod. 


bound to take an oath that he did not hold only in trust the 
land entitling him to a vote. By the ingenuity of lawyers, 
well versed in feudal law, another device was resorted to. 
The property was separated from the superiority, and the 
superiority of portions of land valued at £400 Scots was 
conveyed as before to confidants, either in naked superiority, 
wadset,^ or liferent, care being taken to reserve to the dis- 
poner of the superiority, the right of revoking the grant at 
pleasure. To check this abuse, an oath of a more searching 
character was imposed by an Act of 1734. It proved no 
less ineffectual than the former, as did likewise a series of 
questions drawn up by the Court of Session for use in con- 
troverted election cases, to test the sincerity of the oath taken 
by an elector whose vote was challenged. ^ As a result of an 
appeal to the House of Lords, this method of investigation 
was dropped, and since few scrupled to take the oath. 
Parchment Barons continued to increase. In 1775, the Lord 
Advocate drew up a Bill to suppress nominal and fictitious 
votes, but it was smothered by those powerful, though 
nameless beings, called the 'folks above,' By 1782 
nominal voters, in many counties, outnumbered the real 
freeholders. In Ross and Cromarty, for example, out of 
83 voters only 33 were actual proprietors.* In West Lothian, 
two years later, the proportion was given as 57 to 28. ^ In 
1790, there were 2665 voters, but of these 1318 were ficti- 
tious.^ Moreover, those landowners who were not free- 
holders, that is, who were technically sub-vassals, did not 
possess the franchise, so that it could be said without 
exaggeration that " the representatives of the Landed 

^ Wadset was a form of mortgage. 

2 For the questions v. Porritt, op. cit. ii. 151. 

3 Mathieson, op. cit. 100 ; Scots Mag, 1783, p. 67. 

* CaL Mer. Nov. 20, 1782. ^ Ibid. April 5, 1784. 

^ Mathieson, op. cit. 20. 


Interest in Scotland might be chosen by those who had no 
real or beneficial interest in the land." ^ 

In November, 1782, the committee appointed in August 
produced the draft of two Bills for the consideration of the 
freeholders, justices of the peace, and commissioners of 
supply, at their statutory meetings. The one, on the lines 
of the 1775 Bill, merely abolished liferenters and wadsetters.^ 
The other, in addition, attached the franchise to land, as 
opposed to superiority, and extended it to those holding 
estates assessed at £200 Scots. This sum, the com- 
mittee considered, was a much nearer equivalent to the forty 
shilling land of old extent than the £400 Scots fixed in 1681.^ 
A third proposal seems to have suggested a property quali- 
fication for a Parliamentary candidate in the county which 
he wished to represent. These various schemes showed a 
lack of unanimity, and when they came to be discussed at 
the county meetings, they provoked a corresponding diversity 
of opinion. Though a Bill on the more conservative lines 
of 1775 seems to have been drawn up in 1785,* the movement 
made little progress. The more ardent reformers once more 
had recourse to test cases, and in 1790 a decision in the 

^Reform Petition of Grey quoted in Forv'itt, op. a'f. u. 156. In 181 1 
the number of landowners was 7637 ; the number of voters never rose to 
3000. Idzd. 157. 

2 Observations on the Laws of Election of Members of Parliament^ Edin. 
1782, gives the heads of the proposed Bills ; v. also An Address to the 
Landed Gentlemen of Scotland upon the subject of Nominal and Fictitious 
Qualifications , . . with Observations upon Two Sketches of Bills^ Edin. 

3 "The value of forty shilling land seldom rises higher than ;^i5o or 
;^i6o Scots." An Address to the Landed Gentlejnen^ etc. In England no 
such difiference between the nominal and the real value of forty shilling 
land existed, as the Act of Henry VI. made no reference to any particular 
valuation at the time. "Thus, whilst in England the county franchise 
fell automatically with the decrease in the purchasing power of money, in 
Scotland it rose." Mathieson, op. cit. 18. 

^Cal. Mer, April 18, 1793. 


House of Lords was hailed as a final blow to votes based on 
wadsets and liferents of superiority. This triumph proved 
delusive, and the old abuses continued, until, as we shall 
see, the reforming spirit, born of the French Revolution, 
once more stirred the counties to take joint action. 

One argument advanced in favour of nominal and ficti- 
tious votes was that they enabled the Scottish peers to 
exert a political influence which, they complained, had 
been unduly diminished by the Act of 1707. The number 
entitled to sit in the Parliament of Great Britain had then 
been limited to sixteen, and even this representation had 
long been robbed of any real significance. In 1707, the 
sixteen had been selected by the Queen's Commissioner from 
among those who were in favour of the Treaty of Union, 
and this method, though expressly limited to the first 
election, 1 lasted in effect down to 1832. For it was the 
custom of the Minister in power to send to his supporters 
in Scotland the names of the peers whom he recom- 
mended, so that this " King's List " or Treasury List," 
as it was called, rendered the election a foregone conclusion. 
The self-constituted champion of the independence of the 
Scottish nobility since 1768 had been Lord Buchan,^ and in 
1780 this eccentric brother of Henry Erskine renewed his 
protests. He published a characteristic letter in the press, 
inviting his brother peers to meet in Fortune's Tavern, 
Edinburgh, to discuss a scheme whereby the sixteen should 
be chosen in rotation.^ Nothing came of this appeal, or 
of another protest he made in 1782 when he himself was a 
candidate in opposition to Lord Lauderdale.* " The Mar- 

^Hume Brown, Hist, of Scot. iii. 125. 

2 Mathieson, op. cit. 70. ^ q^i ]^^^^ jyi^y 24, 1780. 

* " There is not half of our sixteen peers can afford to be independent 
as they call themselves : they all would take either a post or a pension 
could they get it." Letter in Polton MSS. quoted by A. Fergusson, The 
Hon. Henry Erskine^ 200. 


quis of Rockingham's express," he wrote, arrived at Lord 
Lauderdale's on or about the loth of May, when his Lord- 
ship's agents did immediately propagate everywhere the 
contents of the letter from the Minister, and it was presently 
known what risks were to be run by the peers who should 
vote for me on the basis of a free election." From this 
moment, therefore, Buchan determined " never to enter 
the walls of Holyrood as a Peer of Scotland." ^ Yet in 1787 
we find him writing again, under the well-known name of 
Albanicus, to complain of the lack of interest shown in the 
choice of the representatives of his order, and a few days 
later appearing within these very walls of Holyrood to take 
part in an election of peers.^ 

Lord Buchan's efforts are regarded by his brother's 
biographer as the marked success " of his youth.^ Yet 
there is no evidence that the Treasury List was abolished. 
But, instead of being openly circulated as before, it was 
handed over in more secretive fashion to the Lord Advocate 
and some trusty henchman on the spot such as the Duke 
of Buccleuch ; * and this plan of procedure, though " more 
decorous," was equally effective in rendering the sixteen 
peers as compact a body of supporters of the Government as 
the forty-five Scottish members of the House of Commons. 

^ Cal. Mer. July 29, 1782. 

"^Cal. Mer. March 26, 29, 1787. ^A. Fergusson, op. cit. 489. 

Castlereas^h Correspondence^ iii. 368-9, cited in Porritt, op. cit. ii. 30. 
Cf. View of the Political State of Scotland at the Late General Election^ 
Edin. 1790, p. 16 : "This custom, so openly dishonourable to the peerage 
of Scotland, was at last violently resisted, and seems now laid aside, at 
least is not avowed." The truth lies in the last clause, for in May, 1796, 
we find the Earl of Kellie inquiring of the Lord Advocate if his name is 
to be on the Government list of Scottish peers. Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. 
No. 500. 



Burgh reform, like county reform, was due to the unrest 
born of the American War. It is true that Archibald 
Fletcher, " the father of burgh reform,'* declares in his 
Memoir ^ that the movement was not the result of any 
external influence, but was generated from within by the 
gross abuses that necessarily flowed from the self-election 
of the town councils. ^ But it must be remembered that 
Fletcher, writing in 1819, was anxious to free the cause he 
had so much at heart from the associations it had then 
acquired with the French Revolution. Those who started 
the propaganda used the political phraseology of their day. 
As " patriots " they spoke of " determined opposition to 
arbitrary establishments," they welcomed the encourage- 
ment extended to them by the Yorkshire Committee,^ and 
they published Dr. Price's letter, in which he hailed their 
agitation as but a manifestation of that spirit of civil liberty, 
which, rising in America " had diffused itself into some 

^ A. Fletcher, A MeiJioir concerning the Origin and Progress of the 
Reform proposed i7i the Internal Government of the Royal Burghs in 
Scotland^ Edin. 1819. The account which follows is based on this work 
and on E. and A. Porritt, The Unreformed House of Commons^ Camb. 
1903, vol. ii. 

2 Fletcher, op. cit. 12. 

3 Letters of Zeno to the Citizens of Edinburgh on the Present Mode of 
Electing a Member of Parliament for that City, Edin. 1783. 


foreign countries and . . . was now animating Scotland " ;^ 
while their opponents affirmed that the reformers were 
echoing the " ravings of political insanity imported from the 
republicans of the south." ^ 

It is to be noted that the seed sown by the American 
Revolution fell on prepared ground. By 1782, the effects 
of the intellectual revival had spread from exclusive literary 
circles to the professional and middle classes. Under the 
guidance of Hume and Adam Smith that movement had been 
largely occupied with social and constitutional questions. 
Of the Literati of the period, none exercised a more potent 
influence than the author of the Wealth of Nations. He had 
been eminently successful in arousing among his students 
in Glasgow ^ and his friends in Edinburgh an interest in 
what was then termed ** the mechanism of political 
society " ;^ and his opinions gained even wider currency 
under the teaching of John Millar and Dugald Stewart, who 
both acknowledged the debt they owed to their master. 
The numerous translations of the French philosophers 

^ Sco/s Mag. April, 1784. 

2 Letter of Atticus, Cal. Mer. April 21, 1783. 

^ Rae, Life of Ada7ii Smithy 59. 

^Adarn Smith's authority was acknowledged by the politicians of the 
day. " He now and then revisited London. The last time he was there, 
he had engaged to dine with Lord Melville, then Mr. Dundas, at 
Wimbledon ; Mr. Pitt, Mr. Grenville, Mr. Addington, afterwards Lord 
Sidmouth, and some other of his lordship's friends were there. Dr. 
Smith happened to come late, and the company had sat down to dinner. 
The moment, however, he came into the room, the company all rose up ; 
he made an apology for being late and entreated them to sit down. 
'No,' said the gentlemen, 'we will stand till you are seated for we are 
all your scholars.'" Kay, Original Portraits., i. 75 ; v. also Brit. Mus. 
Add. MSS. Auckland Papers, No. 34416, ff. 470 and 472, for corre- 
spondence of Dundas with Adam Smith regarding free trade between 
Ireland and Great Britain. But after the French Revolution, Adam 
Smith's principles were regarded with suspicion. Rae, op. cit. 293. 
D. Stewart, Memoir of Adam Smith., Works^ x. 87. Cf speech of 
Marquis of Landsdowne in the House of Lords, Feb. i, 1793. 


published at Edinburgh, and the popularity of Adam 
Smith's writings, testify to the attention paid to the problems 
of government in its widest sense, and it is not surprising, 
therefore, to find the reformers, county and burgh, frequently 
quoting in their pamphlets and in their articles in the press, 
such writers as Machiavelli, Locke, Montesquieu, Black- 
stone, Hume, and Adam Smith. 

Towards the close of the year 1782 and the beginning of 
1783, there appeared in the Edinburgh newspapers a series 
of letters advocating reform under the signature of Zeno, 
the pseudonym of Thomas Macgrugar, a wealthy Edinburgh 
burgess.^ About the same time, John Ewen, a citizen of 
Aberdeen, published a similar series. ^ To these two indi- 
viduals is to be ascribed the origin of the first effective 
agitation for burgh reform. ^ Zeno regretted that his 
fellow-countrymen, though famed for their valour in the 
field, had not often been distinguished by their love of civil 
liberty.* The time had now come to assert their claim to 
freedom, and to shake off the restraints to which their 
ancestors had long been subjected. Though many branches 
of the constitution demanded reformation, there was one 
outstanding grievance — the manner in which the Parlia- 
mentary representatives of the burghs were chosen. In 
Edinburgh, for example, twenty-five persons, thirteen of 
whom formed a quorum, elected the member for the city. 
The bourgeois of France might, with equal propriety, lay 
claim to the same privileges, for they had an equal share 

^ Cal. Mer. Dec. 23, 28, 1782 ; Jan. 6, 22, Feb. 5, 1783. As previously 
stated, they were subsequently published in pamphlet form. 

2 Fletcher, op. cit. 13. 

3 As Fletcher shows {pp. cit. pt. i. sect, i) there had been numerous 
complaints in the past. 

Boswell of Auchinleck, in his speech at Ayr Quarter Sessions, had 
expressed a wish that "the sentiments of civil liberty were universally 
diffused among people of Scotland." Cal. Mer. Nov. 16, 1782. 


in the appointment of their governors. In his second letter, 
Zeno denied that " the dregs of the populace " should have 
votes. The franchise should be conferred on " men in the 
middle ranks of life who generally constitute the majority 
of every free community." This idea was taken from 
Montesquieu, and in his fifth letter Macgrugar quoted his 
favourite authority to rouse his fellow-burgesses to action : 
*' Sleep in a state is always followed by servitude." The 
times were propitious for demanding redress. His Majesty's 
Ministers had declared their intention of bringing in a 
Reform Bill, the freeholders were considering the abolition of 
nominal and fictitious votes, and the gentlemen of the county 
of York had promised to support the cause of the burgesses 
of Scotland. In April, Atticus among others gave expression 
to the views of those opposed to change. He too could 
quote Montesquieu. " What was his definition of liberty ? " 
he asked. " Government must be such as to give no reason 
for one citizen to dread another." Their liberties and pro- 
perties were safe, and Zeno was mistaking the means for the 
end. All attempts to bring about equality in the past, such 
as " Wat Tailor's " and Jack Cade's, had failed. Alas ! 
my countrymen," he concluded, "it is to trade, industry, 
and improvement of the soil, that poor Scotland must look 
for salvation, and not to the nonsense, and distraction, and 
the turmoil of politics." ^ 

Meanwhile, on February 18, 1783, the Merchant Company 
of Edinburgh had met to take into consideration the repre- 
sentation of the people in Parliament, owing to the intimation 
of the Ministry that they were about to legislate on the 
matter. At this meeting, the anomalies existing in municipal 
elections were discussed, the complaint being made that so 
numerous and respectable a body as the Merchant Company " 
had no voice in the appointment of the magistrates. A 
^ Cat. Mer. April 21, 1783. 



committee was chosen to correspond with any individuals 
or societies disposed to co-operate in preparing a scheme of 
reform. 1 The quick response to their appeal from societies 
in Aberdeen, Nairn, Stirling, and other towns showed that 
considerable interest was being taken in the question through- 
out the country. But on April 23 the Merchant Company 
resolved to take no further action until the result of Pitt's 
motion in the House of Commons was known, and from that 
time they refused to countenance the movement.^ Never- 
theless, by suggesting a change in the election of town 
councils, as well as of Members of Parliament, they had 
widened its scope.^ The task of giving a lead to the other 
Scottish burghs now devolved on a committee of Edinburgh 
citizens, formed on April 21, as a result of Macgrugar's 
letters.* Under its auspices, a convention of delegates was 
held in Edinburgh in March, 1784, thirty-three out of the 
sixty-six royal burghs being represented. 

Though the local committees were composed chiefly of 
the merchant class, most of the members of the standing 
committee to whom was entrusted the drafting of Bills 
were connected with the Bar. These included such advo- 
cates as Archibald Fletcher, Henry Erskine, Adam Gillies, 
John Clerk of Eldin, and Lord Gardenstone, a Court of 
Session judge ^ — all of whom were to play a leading part 
in the coming struggle. This standing committee, in April, 
1785, produced two Bills for the approval of the assembled 
delegates. One dealt with the abuses in the internal govern- 
ment of the burghs, the other with the election of their 

1 Scots Mag. 1783, p. 108. 

2 Cal. Mer. April 23, 1783 ; A. Heron, Rise and Progress of the Com- 
pany of Merchants of the City of Edinburgh^ i68i-igo2, Edin. 1903, 
pp. 138-9. 

3 Letter of Britannicus, Cat. Mer. April 5, 1783. 

'^Cal. Mer. April 21, 1783. ^ Fletcher, op. cit. 22-3. 


Parliamentary representatives. Owing to the defeat of Pitt's 
proposals, however, the delegates agreed to lay aside the 
latter, and confine their attention to the former, a decision 
which was finally adopted in the convention of October, 1786. 
Before applying for redress to the legislature the reformers 
resolved to draw up a report, based on information furnished 
by the local societies, on the practical evils prevailing in 
municipal affairs. In this report, published in 1787, the 
grievances of the burgesses were arranged under the follow- 
ing heads : self-election of town councillors, alienation of 
public property, illegal contraction of debt, illegal exactions 
in the name of taxation, misapplication of the town revenues, 
and partiality in quartering soldiers on the burgesses. ^ 

A municipal election was conducted under the sett " 
or constitution of the burgh. It was only in 1709, however, 
that many of the setts had been committed to writing and 
recorded in the books of the Convention of Royal Burghs. ^ 
Use and wont, in cases where a written sett did not exist, 

* Fletcher, op. cit. part iii. ; Historical Account of the Government and 
Grievances of the Royal Burghs of Scotland^ Edin. 1787 ; Substance of the 
Reports y Edin. 1789. The General Report of the Com?nissioners appointed 
to inquire into the State of Municipal Corporations in Scotland^ Lond. 
1835, substantiated the indictment of the early reformers. 

2 The Convention of Royal Burghs must not be confused with the 
Convention of the Burgh Reformers. The former had its origin in the 
Court of the Four Burghs, the records of which go back to 1405, though 
it arose much earlier. " In questions and controversies between different 
burghs, it has frequently exercised a sort of judicial authority or power of 
arbitration ; and in the administration of particular burghs, besides 
adjusting the forms and modes of electing their magistrates and councils, 
it has been not unfrequently appealed to for the purpose either of check- 
ing, or of affording its sanction to those Acts which have proved fatal to 
the original endowments of so many of them. As an executive body, its 
primary function has been to apportion their respective shares of the 
general land-tax. . . General Report of the Commissioners^ 1835, p. 19 ; 
V. also E. and A. Porritt, op. cit. ii. chap. 33. According to the Commis- 
sioners' recommendations, the Convention was shorn of its powers, but it 
still meets to guide public opinion on questions relating to municipal 


had previously regulated the elections, and thus, in the 
course of time, each burgh came to have its own method of 
appointing the town councillors. But all the setts, with 
scarcely any exception, had one principle in common — that 
of self-election, dating from 1469. Inverness may be taken 
as a typical example of the manner in which it worked in 
actual practice. " The town council of this burgh," says 
the Report, " is composed of twenty-one members, whereof 
they only change five annually, and these are brought in 
the succeeding year, if their conduct on former occasions 
merited the approbation of the party in power ; and if that 
is not the case, any person acting contrary to the ideas of 
the leading magistrate and his party is turned off the 
council, never more to be on the list. And thus it happens 
that the magistrates of Inverness continue to elect their 
successors, and must do so for ever, if an alteration of the 
present system is not obtained.'* Under these conditions, 
the control of municipal administration often fell into the 
hands of one family. In Annan, in 1787, the sons, nephews, 
and brother-in-law of the provost formed the majority 
of the corporation. In Brechin the chief magistrate and 
his relatives had maintained themselves in power for 
forty years. The state of the property and funds of the 
royal burghs, as revealed by the Report, explains this 
unusual devotion to public service. In some cases, as in 
Inverkeithing, the town lands had been " feued " at trifling 
sums by the municipal authorities to themselves or their 
friends. In others, such as Dumfries, succeeding genera- 
tions of provosts seem simply to have annexed them. A 
former chief magistrate of Rothesay, so the reformers 
averred, had gifted to a gentleman, " to make him con- 
venient,*' a piece of ground belonging to the burgh, and 
when complaint was made to his successor, " he swore that 
it was in his power to give all the lands away without asking 


a question of any person/' Owing to these alienations 
many of the burghs were in financial straits. The debt of 
Perth amounted at this time to £20,000.1 j-j^Q creditors of 
Arbroath, despairing of being repaid, were forced to accept 
four per cent, interest on their claims. Yet these debts had 
accumulated in spite of the fact that higher taxes had been 
levied than could legally be exacted. Little of this money 
had been spent on public works. In Dunfermline " the want 
of cleanliness was proverbial," although the inhabitants had 
offered to bring in an additional supply of water by private 
subscription. In Banff the rate levied for the upkeep of the 
streets was devoted to repairing those " contiguous to the 
dwellings of the leading men of the council." For such 
works, chiefly of an ornamental kind, as were undertaken, 
the town was made to pay heavily. When, in 1771, Dun- 
fermline resolved to erect a three-storey tolbooth, the 
contract was given to a councillor at £700, but eventually, 
for a one-storey building, £1000 was charged. These 
details could only be given approximately by the reformers, 
as they were denied access to the official books and records. 
In some towns the former consisted only of private memo- 
randa jotted down by the burgh chamberlain. ^ 

The evils of self-election were further aggravated by non- 
residence, although the Scottish Parliament had expressly 
enacted that the town councillors should be " indwellers." 
The provost of Inverkeithing, who had held office for the 
six years preceding 1787, dwelt in Ayrshire. The chief 
magistrate of Wigtown served in the navy in the West 
Indies, and other members of the corporation resided at 
Dumfries, Edinburgh, London, and even in Newfoundland. 
The presence of these " outdwellers " is explained by the 

^ In 1835 it amounted to ^40,000, and by that time Edinburgh had 
become insolvent. Commtsswners' Report^ 36. 

"^Ibid. 37. 


fact that the election of the burgh representatives at West- 
minster was vested in the town councils of royal burghs, 
as being tenants-in-chief of the Crown. These, with the 
exception of Edinburgh, were formed into fourteen groups, 
some consisting of three, and others of four or five burghs. 
Each town council elected a delegate to a convention held 
in rotation in one of the burghs of the group, and there the 
member was chosen. Local magnates therefore exerted 
themselves to secure by bribes, by intimidation, and by 
promises of patronage, such a majority in the town 
councils within their sphere of territorial influence as could 
be depended upon to vote as they desired ; and this 
interference had been facilitated by an Act passed in 1743, 
which allowed non-burgesses to be delegates. ^ Whithorn, 
for example, had been under the direction of the Galloway 
family for some forty years, when, in 1780, a " breach was 
made in their interest by a party of resident councillors. 
Four years later, however. Lord Galloway, by carrying off 
some of these independents and corrupting others, suc- 
ceeded once more in forming a council of his friends. 

A Bill to remedy these abuses was finally adopted by the 
reformers at a meeting of forty-seven delegates in 1785. 
According to its provisions, the annual municipal elections 
were to take place on the same day throughout the country. 
The electors were to be resident burgesses, who were engaged^ 
or had been formerly engaged, in business within the burgh — 
all honorary burgesses and town or trade servants being 
disqualified. These electors were also to appoint seven 
auditors of accounts, whose decisions were to be subject to 
review by the Court of Session.^ 

Those who defended the existing system maintained that 
no legislation was required, as the law courts could be called 
upon to check all maladministration. Two cases tested 
^ Porritt, op. cit. ii. 124. ^ Fletcher, op. cit. pt. i. 151 et seq. 



the validity of this contention. In one the burgesses of 
Nairn complained to the Court of Session that from 1754 
to 1784 their municipal affairs had been managed by one 
family. The Court ordained that all the burgh officials, and 
six of the other nine councillors, should be residenters " ; 
but this judgment was reversed by the House of Lords, 
which held that the Scottish judges had assumed " a dis- 
cretionary power bordering on the legislative one." ^ The 
other raised the question of the control of municipal expendi- 
ture. In mediaeval times the Lord Chamberlain in his 
annual " ayre " had supervised the accounts of the burghs 
in the interest of the king, and in 1535 his powers had been 
transferred to the Court of Exchequer. In an action brought 
by the burgesses of Dumbarton against the town authorities, 
the court disclaimed these powers, and at the same time 
repudiated the suggestion made by the respondents that the 
Convention of Royal Burghs could exercise jurisdiction in 
such matters. As Baron Sir John Dalrymple pertinently 
asked, Is a body made up of the defaulters themselves 
to try these defaulters ? " ^ 

This judgment was given in February, 1787, and in the 
same month the standing committee announced their inten- 
tion of bringing the question before Parliament, thirty-five 
petitions having been already forwarded to London. ^ The 
greatest difficulty had been experienced in finding a suitable 
exponent of their views in the House. George Dempster, 
** a Scotsman, and a Scots member for burghs," was 
approached, but he refused because ** he thought it would 
not be becoming in him to assist in destroying Magistracies 
and Town Councils from whom he derived his situation." 
Pitt, Wilberforce, and others were then applied to without 
result, and finally a deputation of the burgesses waited on 

1 Cal. Mer. July 12, 1784 ; May 11, 1785. Fletcher, op. cit. 56. 
3 Cal. Mer. Feb. 24, 1787. 


Fox. He declined, owing to pressure of business. " Go to 
Sheridan, to whom I shall recommend it," was his advice. 

He will bring it forward in all its force, and I shall with 
infinite satisfaction support him." Sheridan undertook the 
task, and on May 28, 1787, presented a petition to the 
Commons from the inhabitants of Glasgow.^ Meanwhile 
the Convention of Royal Burghs, far from fulfilling its 
supposed functions of supervision, had voted £200 to provide 
a fund for opposing the movement,^ and its preses. Lord 
Provost Grieve, had sent a circular letter to all town councils 
urging them to instruct their Members to vote against the 
measure. Such a scheme, he pointed out, " would unhinge 
a constitution which had stood the test of ages," and would 
be contrary to the fundamental article of the Act of Union.* 
These arguments were to serve Henry Dundas and his sup- 
porters on many future occasions, but in the first debate in 
Parliament on the subject, he confined himself to moving 
the adjournment of the House in accordance with the 
decision of the Speaker that the petitions were of a private 
nature, and could not therefore be accepted so late in the 
session.* Such was the beginning of a series of " shifts 
and evasions " whereby it was hoped to postpone all fruit- 
ful discussion. 

Dundas's attitude towards reform, now as always, was 
based on self-interest. In May, 1782, when Pitt brought 
forward his first motion on Parliamentary reform, Dundas 
declared that " the constitution had existed for ages pure, 
and it was not a proper time now to think of altering it," 
though he admitted that " if any part of the representation 
wanted a reform, it was the place from whence he came." ^ 
Yet by repeating his former eulogy of Chatham, he displayed 

1 Fletcher, op. cit pt. i. 40-60. 2 Cal. Mer. Sept. 8, 1787. 

3 Fletcher, op. cit. pt. i. 147-9. * Pari. Hist, xxvi. 12 15. 

^ Pari. Hist. xxii. 1434. 


an eagerness to cultivate the goodwill of that statesman's 
son. On the fall of the Rockingham Administration, Dun- 
das urged Pitt to accept the office of Prime Minister. ^ Pitt 
refused, and the Coalition came into power. When Pitt 
introduced his second motion in 1783, Dundas, with that 
audacious inconsistency which up to this time had marked 
his public career, voted in its favour. " The granting so 
much to the wishes of the people, he said, " would be the 
best means of putting an end to the business entirely, and 
would certainly, in the popular phrase, give a fresh infusion 
of fine blood to the constitution of that House." ^ Though 
the Government itself was divided on the issue — Fox voting 
for, and North against the proposal — it was thought that 
Dundas was actuated rather by a desire to embarrass his 
colleagues than by a sincere wish for reform. This view 
of his conduct was the result of his growing intimacy with 
Pitt.^ Owing to this suspicion, Dundas was dismissed from 
office,* but Lord Chancellor Loughborough indicates what 
was probably another reason. " I am perfectly convinced," 
he wrote to Fox, that the more rigour Administration exerts 
there [in Scotland], the stronger its influence will be. It 

^ " Certainly the idea did not originate with Henry Dundas, as he 
afterwards claimed." J. Holland Rose, IVilliain Pitt and National 
Revival^ 125. 

'^Parl Hist, xxiii. 865. 

^" Dundas, who had a long and a keen political sight, having already 
determined on attaching his future political fortune to Pitt, probably 
thought a speculative tenet to be undeserving of contention. But the 
recantation pronounced by Thomas Pitt and Dundas rather tended to 
throw ridicule on the proposition than to recommend it to the House." 
N. W. Wraxall, Hist, and Posth. Memoirs., ed. H. B. Wheatley, 5 vols. 
Lond. 1884, iii. 67-8. 

" By opposition, he his King shall court. 
And damn the People's cause by his support." 
Criticisms on the Rolliad^ pt. i. 8th edn. Lond. 1788, p. 44. 

* G. W. T. Omond, The Lord Advocates of Scotland., ii. 114 ; Lord John 
Russell, Memorials and Correspondence of Charles fames Fox, ii. 86. 


began to be seriously credited that it was not permitted to 
them to remove any person protected by Dundas." ^ Henry 
Erskine was appointed Lord Advocate, but his four months' 
tenure of office afforded too httle time to undermine the 
Dundas interest.^ When Pitt became Prime Minister in 
December, 1783, Dundas was made Treasurer of the Navy, 
and Hay Campbell, Lord Advocate. 

Pitt's victory at the polls in 1784 was so decisive an 
expression of the national will that it rendered Parliamentary 
reform of less practical importance. In 1785 he introduced 
a Bill dealing with the representation of England, though 
apparently in a draft of the preamble he proposed to enlarge 
the electorate of such towns in Scotland as Edinburgh and 
Glasgow.^ The measure met with a cold reception, even 
his henchman Dundas limiting his approval to the prin- 
ciple of compensation.* The first reading was rejected by 
a majority of seventy-four, and for the next few years 
Parliamentary reform remained in the background. This 
division was equally fatal to Scottish burgh reform, which 
was too closely bound up with the general question to allow 
of its being discussed on its own merits. Powerful though 
he was, Pitt had not yet an organised following in the House, 
and he could hardly be expected to inquire into a system 
which enabled his friend and colleague Dundas to place at 

^ Omond, ibid.\ Russell, op. cit. ii. 203. 

^Cf. letter of Sir T. Dundas to North, Oct. 1783, recommending him to 
act on the advice of Mr. Ferguson with regard to patronage as " he and 
Mr. Robertson are the two persons who have undertaken the Burthen 
and Management of Kirk Politics in this Country, and to v/hose activity 
Government is greatly indebted." Home Office {Scotland) Correspon- 
dence^ Public Record Office, London, vol. i. — hereafter cited as Scot 

^ Holland Rose, op. cii. 199. 

Mr. Dundas thought it his duty to state some of those reasons to the 
House which induced him to declare himself a sincere friend to this 
question. (A hearty laugh.)" Pari. Hist. xxv. 469. 



his disposal, with unfaihng regularity, thirty-nine out of the 
forty-five votes of the Scottish members. ^ 

Dundas^s power in his own country, thus practically 
exemplified, was due, as Professor Hume Brown points out, 
to family prestige, to his own personal qualities, and to the 
condition of Scotland at the time.^ Born in 1742, the son 
of Lord President Dundas, whose father and grandfather 
had both been raised to the bench, he was called to the 
Scottish Bar in 1763.^ By that time his half-brother was 
President of the Court of Session. Under such favourable 
circumstances Henry Dundas soon built up a lucrative 
practice as an advocate. But it was in the General Assembly 
of the Church that he, like so many of his contemporaries, 
developed a talent for public speaking and a natural aptitude 
for affairs.^ Such experience stood him in good stead when, 
in 1774, he entered Parliament as member for Midlothian. 
His early politics are said to have been of a Whig cast,^ 
and later his enemies accused him of having displayed " a 
passion for democracy." ^ But his political creed was as 
variable as that of most of his contemporaries. He soon 
established his reputation as a forcible and fluent speaker, 

^ T. H. B. Oldfield, The Represent Hist of Grt Brit vi. 296. 

Hist, of Scot iii. 347. ^Omond, op. cit. ii. chap. xiv. 

*T. Somerville, My Own Life and Times, 4h 97- Others mentioned 
by Somerville in the same connection are Sir Gilbert Elliot, Lord Chan- 
cellor Loughborough, George Dempster, and Sir Wm. Pulteney. 

" 'Twas in Kirk Courts he learned his airs, 
And thunder'd his oration." 
The Me/viad, or the Birth., Parentage., Educationy and Achievements of a 
Crete Mon, by I-spy-I, 3rd edn. Lond. 1805, p. 12. 

^T. Somerville, op. cit. 41. 

®"You wanted to thrust the whole deacons into the ordinary council, 
nay to rob the guildry of their privileges, and bestow them on the 
Merchant Company. . . . May not this passion for democracy spread into 
the counties . . . ? " A Letter to the Lord Advocate of Scotlandhy Eugene, 
Edin. Nov. 18, 1777. 


and a ready and courageous debater,^ while by a carefully 
calculated parade of independence he turned every minis- 
terial crisis to his advantage ^ Lord Advocate under the 
Tory Ministry of North in 1775, he continued in office under 
the Whig Administrations of Rockingham and Shelburne. The 
Treasurership of the Navy, which North seems to have pro- 
mised him, he received from Shelburne, who added the valu- 
able sinecure of Keeper of the Scottish Signet for life,^ and 
" the recommendation to all offices which should fall vacant 
in Scotland/' * Even under the Coalition he retained for 
some time, as we have seen, his post as Lord Advocate.^ 
During this period of seven years he laid the foundation of 
that influence in Scotland which his association with Pitt 
rendered complete ; for the succession of offices he held 
as Treasurer of the Navy, President of the Board of Control 
for India, Home Secretary, and Secretary for War, placed 

^ " Far from shunning the post of danger, he always seemed to court it ; and 
was never deterred from stepping forward to the assistance of Ministers by 
the violence of Opposition, by the unpopularity of the measure to be 
defended, or by the difficulty of the attempt." Wraxall, op. cit. i. 426. 

" My friend the Advocate has made a very Brilliant figure ; he is really 
a fine Manly fellow, and I like a Decided Character. He speaks out and 
is affraid of Nobody." Sir Wm. Gordon to Dr. Carlyle, June i, 1780. 
Edin. Univ. MSS.^ Letters of Dr. Carlyle^ No. 104. 

^Mathieson, op. cit. 86-91. 

^ Scot. Entry Book Warrants^ vol. i. July 31, 1782. On March 3, 1777, 
H. Dundas and Andrew Stuart were appointed Keepers of the Signet, 
with power " to admit and receive all clerks and writers to the Signet," 
except sheriffs and their clerks, who were to be appointed by the Secre- 
tary of State. On June 23, 1779, H. Dundas was appointed sole Keeper 
of the Signet during pleasure, "the former grant being revoked." In 
1782 the warrant was for life, and empowered him to "admit and receive 
clerks and writers to the Signet and Sheriff" Clerks." Scot. Corr. vol. 24, 
July 29, 18 14. According to the second Lord Melville, the right of 
appointing sheriff"-clerks was alone worth more than ^1000 a year. Ibid. 

^ Lord John Russell, op. cit. ii. 29. 

^According to Lord Campbell, " old Henry Dundas's advice to Ministers 
of State" was : " Beware of resignation ; for when you are out, the Lord 
Almighty only knows when you may get in again." Lives of the Lord 
Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal of England^ vii. 599. 


in his gift an amount of patronage never possessed by any 
former " Manager of Scotland." ^ 

The pohtical condition of the country enabled this "noted 
pluraHst " to exercise unbounded power in his native land. 
In the counties the number of voters never reached 3000, 
and the considerations which weighed with the fortunate 
possessors of the franchise are fully disclosed in a confidential 
report drawn up in 1788 to enable Henry Erskine to direct 
the Whig campaign in the coming election. In it, the 
*' political opinions, family connections and personal cir- 
cumstances of each of the 2662 voters " on the freeholders' 
roll of that year are minutely detailed. ^ " Has a family," 
is a comment, the significance of which is apparent from 
other entries. John Stewart of Stenton " wants a com- 
mission for a younger son." Mr. Cunningham of Lanishaw 
desires " a second son out as a Writer in India." Wilham 
Richan of Rapness " got a Lieutenancy through Mr. Dundas, 
the Treasurer of the Navy." Mr. John Russell is one of a 
large company who " has received favours from Mr. Dundas." 
" Married to a niece of Mr. Dundas," or " married to a cousin 
of Mr. Dundas " appears not infrequently. Places, accord- 
ing to Cockburn, were equally effective in " keeping in 
order " the town councillors who elected the burgh repre- 
sentatives. The law, the church, the excise, and the public 
service generally, provided an abundant supply of lucrative 
posts for them or their relatives.^ 

^ Referring to the opinion of Pitt's supporters, D. Pulteney writes to the 
Duke of Portland: "Another jealousy too may break out if Dundas is 
not a little checked relative to the Scotch, for whom everything is claimed 
and granted without debate." Aug. 13, 1784. Hist. MSS. Com. Reports^ 
xiv. App. i. 1894, Rutland MSS. p. 131. 

2 View of the Political State of Scotland . . . in 1788, ed. by C. E. 
Adam, Edin. 1887. 

^Life of Jeffrey^ i- 78 ; Lord Brougham, Hist. Sketches of Statesmen in 
the Time of George HI. i. 307-8. " I am not quite certain if, on this occa- 
sion, it will be in my power to transmit your lists of names, as was 


Dundas's unrivalled knowledge of these relationships 
made him an ideal electioneering agent. " Here in Edin- 
burgh," wrote Lockhart in 1819, " unless Mr. Wastle 
exaggerates very much, there was no person of any con- 
sideration whose whole connections and circumstances were 
not perfectly well known to him. And I begin to see 
enough of the structure of Scottish society to appreciate 
somewhat of the advantages which this knowledge must 
have placed in the hands of so accomplished a statesman." ^ 
A member of a numerous family, he had been brought 
by intermarriage into close touch with the landed gentry. 
Of tall and commanding figure, frank and genial in manner, 
he was a welcome guest at their social gatherings where he 
could " blend conviviality with business." ^ His broad 
Doric accent, which, unlike some of his countrymen, he 
never forsook for the " narrow English," was another trait 
which " prejudiced in his favour." ^ His inconsistency, 

sometimes done formerly ; but on this you may confidently rely, that no 
person whatever shall, with my consent, be admitted into the council, 
who is not, to the best of my knowledge and belief, not only correct in 
his political principles, but also firmly attached to your interest." Letter 
of Lord Provost Stirling to Dundas, Sept. 5, 1799, in Documents connected 
with the Question of Reform in the Royal Burghs of Scotland^ 2nd edn. 
Edin. 1 8 19, p. 71 ; v. also The Letter of the Rt. Hon. Henry Dundas unto 
the Rt. Hon. Thos. Elder, with Notes, Edin. 1798. 

^Peter's Letters to His Kinsfolk, 2nd edn. 18 19, ii. No. 31. 

2 Wraxall, op. cit. i. 425-7. " I am this far on my way to the north of 
Scotland on a visit to Sir James Grant, General Grant, Duke of Gordon, 
Lord Findlater, and Lord Fife. They are all very hostile to each other ; 
and yet I am told that a visit from me may probably have the effect of 
uniting their political interests in such a manner as to co-operate for 
securing five seats in Parliament at the general election in the interest 
of Government ; whereas if I do not interpose, there is a danger of their 
getting into immediate warfare among themselves. . . . When I tell you 
that I was living idly and pleasantly with a few chosen friends in my 
Highland retreat, you will not suppose that this is a jaunt of pleasure, 
but I must undertake it." Dundas to Grenville, Sept. 2, 1787, Hist. MSS. 
Com., Dropmore MSS. iii. 421. 

3 " Full weil his ain dear Scotch he'd speak," The Melviad, p. 9. " His 



which made his name a byword even among EngHsh poH- 
ticians,^ could not lower him in the esteem of those who 
were even more intent on the " loaves and fishes." ^ His 
fidelity to Pitt silenced his detractors. In the *' friend and 
elder brother " of that popular Minister, in one who was 
the first Scot to gain an eminent place in the ranks of British 
statesmen, all could take a just pride. "He is a Scotch- 
man," says Cockburn, " of whom his country may be 
proud." 3 " Tory and Whig agreed in loving him," wrote 
Lockhart.* This admiration was not evoked by the moral 
grandeur of his character, though in his familiar correspond- 
ence he sometimes sounds a note of lofty patriotism.^ It 
was based on the unfailing kindliness of his disposition. 
" Of his private kindnesses," says Somerville, " I have 
known instances of a nature to exclude all suspicion of their 
arising from motives of ostentation or selfish policy." ^ 

It was therefore with no exaggeration that Dundas could 
write to Grenville in October, 1789 : "A variety of circum- 
stances happen to concur in my person to render me a 
cement of political strength to the present Administration, 
which, if once dissolved, would produce very ruinous 

oratory was indeed very fine. . . . Lingua Tuscana in voce Romana." 
Speech of Lord G. Gordon, Pari. Hist. xxi. 337. 

^ Wraxall, op. cit. ii. 297 ; Critids7ns of the Rolliad^ 43. 

2 So Ramsay of Ochtertyre describes their motives. Scotland and 
Scotsmen in the eighteenth Ce7itury from MSS. of f. Ramsay of Ochtertyre, 
ed. A. Allardyce, i. 342. 

2 Life of feffrey, \. 79. ^ Op. cit. ibid. 

5 " I am here to get sleep, but in truth I am overdone, and unfortunately 
have got into a habit from anxiety of not sleeping in the night. At the 
same time I feel perfectly happy. Let happen what will to myself 
personally, I have the heartfelt satisfaction to know that I have been a 
main instrument of compleatly rousing the spirit and zeal of the country, 
and I trust in a little more time to have put it in a state of impregnable 
security." Letter of H. to R. Dundas, Wimbledon, Ap. 30, 1798. Edin. 
Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500. 

^ Op. cit. 317 ; v. also Stanhope, Life of Pitt, i. 311. 


effects." The occasion of the letter was the offer of the 
post of President of the Court of Session. Dundas refused 
it, not only for the reasons already stated, but because he 
could not honourably interfere with the Lord Advocate's 
pretensions. 1 At the time, and long afterwards, he pro- 
fessed to regret his decision, though it may be doubted if 
such a comparatively insignificant position could now have 
satisfied his ambition. ^ The office was given to Hay Camp- 
bell, the Lord Advocate, who was succeeded by Robert 
Dundas, Henry's nephew. Personally popular, the latter 
proved himself to be a conscientious official, but he had little 
of his uncle's ability or force of character. At every crisis 
he had to look to his kinsman for direction. 

In 1791, Henry Dundas was appointed Secretary of State 
for the Home Department. Since the abolition of the Scottish 
Secretaryship in 1748, its functions had been discharged by 
the Home Secretary.^ Though the Lord Advocate remained 
responsible for local administration, others such as the Lord 
Justice Clerk, were often consulted on questions relating to 
Scottish affairs.* With the rise of Dundas such communica- 
tions became rarer, and in 179 1, unnecessary ; for between 
uncle and nephew there existed absolute confidence. The 
concentration of power in the hands of Henry Dundas 
reduced the government of Scotland to the despotism that 
bears his name. In the eighteenth century, a succession of 
managers had exercised a similar, if less complete, control 

^ Dropmore MSS. i. 534-5. 

^J. Sinclair, Memoirs of the Life and Works of Sir John Sinclair^ 
2 vols. Lond. 1837, i. 276. 

3 Hume Brown, Hist, of Scot. iii. 210. "I beg leave to address your 
Lordship as Secretary of State for Scotland," Lord Provost Hunter Blair 
to North, Sept. 23, 1783. Scot. Corr. vol. i. 

* In applying for the post of Lord President, Lord Justice Clerk Miller 
calls himself "correspondent of government for this part of the country." 
Scot. Corr. vol. 3, Dec. 13, 1787. 


over the destinies of the country, but their authority was 
almost unquestioned. It was the fate of " Harry the 
Ninth " ^ that his long and rigorous rule coincided with 
an awakening of his countrymen which made them realise, 
for the first time, their political servitude. 

By 1787 only a few of the gentry and the middle class had 
begun to be sensible of their bondage. The people generally 
remained outside the influence of politics. The county 
movement was strictly limited in its appeal, and the burgh 
reformers had expressly condemned such proposals as 
universal suffrage and the ballot, whereby advanced reformers 
in England had sought to enlist the people at large " in 
their cause. ^ The masses in Scotland had no opportunity to 
develop an interest in politics, for the only popular element 
in elections was to be found in those towns which still pre- 
served the mediaeval institutions of Guilds Merchant and 
Trade Incorporations. In such burghs the trades had 
originally the right of choosing a deacon who was ex officio 
a member of the town council. This representation was out 
of harmony with the self-election of the other members, and 
gradually a compromise arose whereby the trades and 
the council united to nominate the deacon.^ The only 
change suggested in this respect by the burgh reformers was 
to give the incorporations, where they existed, the right of 
electing their own deacon. Had they been less anxious to 
avoid the charge of innovation, they might have added to 
the number of trade representatives, who were in every case, 
as may be readily supposed, in a helpless minority. Such 
as they were, the efforts of the burgesses were supported 
by the incorporations throughout the country. 

Apart from the few members of these incorporations, the 

^ " Mr. Henry Dundas, sometimes called Harry the Ninth." J. Boswell 
(" Bozzy"), A Letter to the People of Scotland, Edin. 1785. 

2 Fletcher, op. cit. 203-235. ^ Porritt, op, cit, ii. 63. 



common people remained indifferent to the political issues 
of the day. On one question only had their feelings been 
aroused — the Roman Cathohc Rehef Bill of 1778. The 
eagerness with which they had joined in the crusade against 
that measure not only testified to the latent power of the 
lower classes, but revealed the ease with which that power 
once rendered active might be organised against the Govern- 
ment. Dundas had to bend before the storm of national 
disapproval, and was forced, amid the taunts of his opponents 
in the House of Commons, to announce that the proposed 
legislation was abandoned. These anti-popish riots showed 
that religious affairs still held the foremost place in the 
minds of the populace. According to a French observer in 
1790, the wild enthusiasm of the seventeenth century was 
" now chiefly confined to the dregs of the people in manu- 
facturing towns.'' The clergy did not share their bigotry. 

Neither their learning nor example," he says, has yet 
been able to banish entirely that enthusiastic spirit which 
has, for more than two centuries, been the characteristic of 
the vulgar. Satisfied with discovering truth themselves, 
they have used no strenuous efforts to reform the multi- 
tude, which, they suppose, must always be governed by the 
grosser systems of mystery and error." ^ It was this lack 
of sympathy between a large section of the clergy and 
their parishioners which had led to successive protests 
against the Patronage Act, and the opposition to that Act 
had tended to maintain among the latter the sentiment of 
liberty which had hitherto found no other means of expres- 
sion. In 1782 the agitation was renewed, and the discussion 
which it produced showed that it was not unconnected with 
the reforming spirit of the time. 

^Mons. B de, Rejlections on the Causes and Probable Consequences 

of the Late Revolutioft in France^ with a View of the Eccles. and Civil 
Constitution of Scotland (j:vdins.\ Edin. 1790, Letter viii. 


Patronage had been restored by the Act of 1712 as a 
means of poHtical control in the interests of the Jacobites. 
Patrons, however, did not begin to avail themselves of their 
rights of presenting to livings till about 1730. The enforce- 
ment of the Act led to two secessions from the Kirk, one in 
1740, the other in 1761.^ The second was the more important, 
for it was the result of the policy of the New Moderates. It 
was the object of this party to avert a calamity which was 
threatening the Church.^ Since the Revolution, and more 
especially since the Union, it had not possessed that influence 
which had rendered the General Assembly the real Parlia- 
ment of the nation. Noblemen and barons no longer sought 
a place in its courts, and they were being alienated from the 
services of the Kirk by its conservative theology. The 
New Moderates hoped by accommodating their creed to the 
ideas of the " nobility, gentry, heritors, and freeholders " 
to attract these classes once more. As a means to that 
end, the law of patronage was firmly upheld and rigidly 
enforced, although the Assembly, by annually referring the 

grievance of patronage " to its standing commission, 
professed to entertain a hope of effecting a change in 
the law. This diplomatic method of shelving the question 
was due to Dr. Robertson, Principal of Edinburgh Uni- 
versity, and leader of the Moderates, who, for twenty 
years, exercised as undisputed a sway over the General 
Assembly as the political manager of Scotland over the 
electorate. In 1781 he retired from the leadership of the 
party, and the question of patronage was at once raised 
by the High-Flying, Wild, or Popular Party who upheld 
the right of congregations to a share in the choice of their 

1 W. L. Mathieson, Scotland and the Union, chaps, vi. and vii. ; The 
Awakening of Scotland, chaps, iv. and v. 

2 Hume Brown, Hist, of Scot. iii. 362-70. 


Numerous societies and parishes published resolutions 
denouncing the evils of patronage. Some were drawn up 
in the language of the seventeenth century,^ but others 
showed that the political events of the period were infusing 
fresh vigour into the old controversy. The Nine Incor- 
porated Trades of Dundee, for example, looked forward to 
a successful issue to the demand for repeal since they had 
resolved " to apply to those principles of liberty and regard 
to the rights of man which actuate the breasts of many of 
our public representatives in Parliament." ^ In An Address 
on Civil and Ecclesiastical Liberty ^ it was pointed out that 
the constitution of the Church was republican, that patronage 
favoured arbitrary government, and breathed a spirit of 
unlimited monarchy. The law of patronage could serve no 
purpose but to increase the power of an aristocracy already 
too powerful, and to add to that system of corruption 
become already far too prevalent. The Glasgow Society 
for the Abolition of Patronage especially recommended a 
pamphlet entitled An Inquiry into the Principles of Ecclesi- 
astical Patronage and Presentation,^ As scriptural expression 
was liable to misapplication, misconstruction, and cavilling, 
the author had " drawn his arguments from the soundest 
arguments of moral and political reasoning, and the great, 
clear, and open source of natural right." It is interesting to 
note that the writer was anxious to abolish patronage on the 
ground that otherwise the people would lose all notion of 
liberty. " More than once," he says, " we have had occasion 
to observe and lament that, by the form of the constitution 
of the country, the great body of the people are, in relation 
to civil affairs, excluded from the exercise and enjoyment 
of the rights of freedom. The consequence is what was 
naturally to have been expected — a total indifference 

^ E.g. Collington, Cal. Mer. Nov. 27, 1782. 
Cal. Mer, Feb. 26, 1783. ^ E^in. 1783. ^ Edin. 1783. 



approaching to insensibility in relation to the value and 
advantages of political liberty. ... It is obvious to all 
the world that, excepting a mere security for life and a 
capacity of holding property, they are reduced to the 
exercise only of the common functions of all animals, the 
gratification of hunger and thirst and other similar enjoy- 
ments.'* The recognition of the political aspect of the 
question was no less apparent, though more subtly stated, 
in the most famous pamphlet of the day. The Principles 
of Modern Moderation.^ " In the form and appearance of 
elections,'' conducted according to the Act of Assembly of 
1732, the author, the Rev. Dr. Hardy, found something 

highly democratical," and he proposed a plan which " was 
calculated to secure the confidence of the people without 
any hazard of awakening their secret ambition." " The 
political defect of popular elections at large," he wrote, " is 
that the power is entirely enlarged in one interest, and in 
that interest in which the genius of legislation does not 
presume that there is wisdom." 

As some three hundred livings in the gift of the Crown 
formed a ready means of rewarding political supporters, 
there was little doubt that the genius of legislation would 
be unwilling to cede to the demands of the Popular Party. 
In June, 1783, a memorial was placed before the Government, 
explaining the dangers that might be expected if the 
Moderates were defeated in the General Assembly. ^ " The 

1 Edin. 1782. 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. i. On May 26, 1780, Sir J. MTherson had written 
to Dr. Carlyle : " This will find you in the hurry of Assembly Debates. 
Pray write me an ostensible Letter, stating to me the pulse of the Kirk, 
your Labour in keeping it regular, the future Consequence of Inattention 
in government to the Prejudices and Principles of such a Body as 
the Kirk influences. Do this and I will make use of it for your good if 
possible. To this Period, government would no more listen to the wishes 
of the Literati of Edinburgh than to the noise of the waves on Leith 
Sands." Edin. Univ. MSS. Letters of Dr. Carlyle^ No. 37. 


point on which the Common People of Scotland are mad- 
dest/' it ran, " is that of patronage (as they call Advowsons). 
They hold them to be anti-Christian, etc. The ministers 
who command them always touch this Key, and some 
Liberty-mad people touch it too because they say that it is 
the only key on which they can be touched." The late 
motion in the General Assembly to have a report from all 
the Synods embodying their objections to patronage was pre- 
parative to an intended application for an Act of Parliament 
to abolish patronage, and it was only negatived by a majority 
of nine. If the greatest attention was not given to the ques- 
tion, the probability was that the motion would be carried 
next year. The wisdom of Parliament, it was certain, would 
reject the application. Popular election would involve riots, 
but rejecting the request of the Kirk would also occasion 
tumults and new secessions. The Church should therefore be 
carefully looked after, and it might be easy to keep the Popular 
preachers in order. The memorialist then proposed a scheme 
whereby a sum of £20 was to be added to the stipends of 
two Crown presentees in each county. Thus some sixty 
clergymen, and those in expectation of succeeding them, 
would be under government influence. The sixty would be 
appointed by the Lord Advocate, " who would be careful 
to name proper persons." 

These suggestions were not carried out, but the Moderates 
spared no effort to secure a majority in the Assembly of 
1784. By that time Dundas had entered on his long lease 
of power, and it was to him that the well-known ecclesiastic. 
Dr. Carlyle of Inveresk, characteristically announced the 
triumph of his party. ^ Dundas's nephew, Robert Dundas, 
following in his uncle's steps, had made a brilliant debut 
in the General Assembly. " In one of the handsomest 
speeches I ever heard," Carlyle wrote, " delivered with a 
1 Scot. Corr. vol. i. May 28, 1784. 


manly modesty, he moved the resolution, viz. to reject the 
overtures as ill-founded, inexpedient, and dangerous to the 
peace of the Church. Our majority was no less than ninety 
that day, but that was owing to a division among our 
opponents. . . . Next day ... we followed up our victory 
close . . . and without a vote resolved to expunge the 
Grievance of Patronage from our instructions to the com- 
mission. So that the Wild Brethren are compleatly routed, 
and Fanaticism has received a greater blow than ever it 
did in our time. To say the truth, such was the spirit of 
the clergy that even the prudence and political timidity of 
our friend the Principal could not have restrained them had 
he been their leader. He has, however, marked the most 
sincere joy upon this occasion, and I say that he, like King 
William, trained the army which was afterwards victorious." 

During the following year, the conflict raged outside the 
Assembly, in synods, presbyteries, and kirk sessions. So 
acute did the crisis appear, that Robertson felt himself 
obliged to issue from his learned seclusion to denounce, in 
the General Sessions of Edinburgh, the idea of applying to 
Parliament for relief. Neither the Ministry nor the Opposi- 
tion, he said, would give such petitions the least countenance. 
Some had argued that no harm would ensue if they were 
rebuffed. It was an easy matter to alarm the populace, 
but who could appease them ? All remembered what had 
happened in the metropolis and her sister city during the 
anti-popish riots. " Sir," he concluded, " the same causes 
will ever produce the same effects, and once open the gate of 
novelty, bold is the man who will pretend to foretell when it 
will be shut." ^ 

In 1785, the Popular Party raised the question once more 
in the Assembly, by a motion to consult the landed interest 
and the royal burghs as to the repeal or the alteration of 
1 Cal. Mer. Aug. 21, 1784. 


the law. It was rejected by a majority of thirty-six, and 
from that date the agitation gradually subsided, although 
as late as 1789 the Glasgow Society for the Abolition of 
Patronage was still engaged in circulating petitions. ^ The 
opponents of patronage were themselves divided as to the 
remedies to be applied to the evil. Some supported the 
election of the minister by the whole congregation. The 
majority, on the other hand, wished to revive the practice 
of 1690 whereby the right was exercised conjointly by the 
elders and heritors. This division in the ranks of the " Wild 
Brethren " gave strength to the Moderates. Moreover, there 
existed in Scotland the churches of the Seceders, with a 
membership of some one hundred thousand, ready to wel- 
come those who were discontented with the principles of the 
Established Church. 

Unsuccessful as the movement was, it throws no little 
light on the relations between the governing classes and the 
general mass of the people at this time. The language of the 
patronage controversy of 1782 is more distinctly political 
than that of 1761.2 Under the guise of ecclesiastical liberty, 
political ideas were gradually insinuating themselves into 
the minds of the common people. It was the distrust and 
even dread of democracy which gave added force to the pen 
of Hardy and the voice of Robertson long before events in 
France appeared to justify them ; and when the shock of 
the French Revolution roused the industrial classes to 
political life, the very phraseology of the defenders of patron- 
age became the commonplaces of the opponents of reform. 

1 Cal. Mer. Aug. 6, 1789. 

2 Andrew Crosbie in his Thoughts of a Layi7tan concerning Patroftage 
and Presentation (1769) had indicated the political consequences of 
patronage. Mathieson, op. cit. 174. 



As yet none of the issues raised indirectly by the American 
War had appealed to the Scottish people as a whole. Each 
class of society regarded with indifference the grievances of 
the other. By 1788 burgh reform had indeed made some 
progress. The number of towns adhering to the movement 
had risen from forty-seven in 1785 to fifty-three, and the 
Commons had ordered the charters of the royal burghs to 
be laid before the House. But the cause of the reformers 
had aroused no such general enthusiasm as the demand for 
a national militia or the opposition to the Roman Catholic 
Relief Bill. A lively interest in purely political affairs was 
still lacking, and the nation was still in a state of com- 
placent acquiescence in what Gait calls " the taciturn 
regularity of ancient affairs." ^ In November, 1788, when 
the centenary of the Revolution was commemorated in all 
the churches on the recommendation of the General 
Assembly, Scottish pulpits resounded with praises of " Our 
Happy and Glorious Constitution." ^ Had not foreigners, 

^ Gait, Annals of the Parish^ chap. xxix. 

2 Henry Brougham, then a boy of ten, was taken to hear his kinsman, 
Principal Robertson, preach on this occasion. " One sermon I can never 
forget. ... I well remember his referring to the events then passing on 
the Continent as the forerunners of far greater ones which he saw casting 
their shadows before. He certainly had no apprehensions of mischief, 
but he was full of hope for the future, and his exultation was boundless in 



Montesquieu among others, regarded it as a model ? Had 
not Scotland peculiar reasons for remembering what Wodrow 
had called " the glorious and never-to-be forgotten " event ? 
The Jacobite risings had brought home to the great majority 
of Scots the true benefits of the Revolution Settlement ; 
and what was the political apathy of which Scotland had 
been accused but the silent testimony to the perfection of 
that system of government under which it had made extra- 
ordinary progress in industry and trade ? Even the 
reformers had never ventured to call in question the prin- 
ciples of 1688, and it was their constant endeavour to meet 
the charge of innovation by asserting, in the conventional 
language of the day, that they were merely attempting to 
repair a few loose joints in the timbers of the ship of state 
which a hundred years' service had revealed. 

Little more than two years passed, and the claim of the 
British constitution to be the wonder and envy of the 
world " 1 was seriously challenged by the new constitution 
of France ; and the challenge was rendered all the more 
dramatic by the series of momentous events that preceded 
it — the meeting of the States General, the taking of the 

contemplating the deliverance of ' so many millions of so great a nation 
from the fetters of arbitrary government.'" Life and Times of Henry, 
Lord Brougham, written by himself, i. 26. Robertson's son refused later 
to publish the sermon "because, in the violence of the times, the author 
would be set down for a Jacobin, how innocent soever he was at the 
date of its being preached" ; ibid. 27. Another Lord Chancellor, John 
Campbell, records that his "earliest recollection of eloquence" arose 
from a sermon delivered by his father on the same occasion. Mrs, Hard- 
castle, Life of John, Lord Campbell, i. 12. 

1 " We feel ourselves called upon to commemorate that glorious event, 
the Revolution of 1688, which delivered us from Popery and arbitrary 
power, ind fixed that constitution of government which is the wonder and 
envy of the world. . . ." Address of the General Assembly to the King. 

Scots Mag. June, 1788, p. 307. Cf. Mons. B de : "Many of them 

imagine it to be the most perfect plan of human policy." Refleciio7is on 
the Causes and Probable Consequences of the late Revolution in France, 
Edin. 1790, p. 174. 


Bastille, and the Declaration of the Rights of Man — and all 
the more impressive by the fact that it was made by a 
nation whose government had hitherto been regarded as the 
most despotic in Europe.^ Like the American War this 
crisis created a keen desire for news.^ The press published 
full accounts taken chiefly from the London Gazette. Scottish 
newspaper enterprise was limited, and the public curiosity 
was to be gauged by an increased importation of English 
journals,^ well known in the larger towns where they could 
be obtained at the booksellers', or consulted in the coffee- 
houses and tap-rooms.* An absence of systematic comment, 
a notorious defect of Scottish periodicals of the time, renders 

^ " The Revolution that has taken place in France astonishes every 
politician in Europe to whom the news has reached. That a nation 
whose characteristic for several centuries has been unconditional sub- 
mission to slavery should have on a sudden, in the twinkling of an eye, 
been animated with the boldest spirit of liberty and patriotism, is an 
event to be contemplated with, wonder." Edin. Evening Courant, July 
25, 1789. 

2 " We have narrated, as copiously as the limits of our paper would 
permit, the Revolution and the politics of a neighbouring nation, in which 
we have the satisfaction of having received the approbation of our readers. 
Yet while we presented them with the correct reasoning and elegant 
harangues of a Mirabeau and a Necker, we in no case omitted any local 
occurrences worth noting." Cal. Mer. Jan. 23, 1790. 

3 "To the Public. . . . The article in question, the publication of 
Journals and Newspapers has for some time increased astonishingly in 
this country ; but that increase has been chiefly promoted by the importa- 
tion of English Newspapers." Edinburgh Herald^ No. i, March 15, 1790. 
Cf. the advertisement of the Courier de Lo?tdres in the Caledo7iian Mercury^ 
Sept. 17, 1789: "By means of this paper the higher orders of English 
readers have been provided with a variety of incidental and important 
intelligence, arising from the momentous occurrences of the times." 

^"The great subscription coffee-room is supported by certain annual 
contributions of more than six hundred of the principal citizens of Glasgow 
and members of the university. Half the newspapers of London, the 
Gazettes from Ireland, Holland, and France, and a number of provincial 
journals and chronicles of Scotland and England, besides reviews, 
magazines, and other periodicals, are objects of the subscription." I. 
Lettice, Letters on a Tour through various Parts of Scotla7id in the year 
I7g2j Lond. 1794, pp. 59 and 60. 



it difficult to give a precise account of the general opinion 
regarding the Revolution. The tone of the press was, how- 
ever, sympathetic, and it is significant that as early as 
March, 1790, the Edinburgh Herald was established to supply 
the want of a " truly constitutional paper/' ^ 

The only public expression of opinion came, as was to 
be expected, from the Whigs. As early as June 4, 1789, 
the Reform Burgesses of Aberdeen at their annual dinner, 
had pledged the Estates General. ^ A year later, the Whig 
Club of Dundee, following the example of the Revolution 
Society of London, voted this address to the National 
Assembly : ^ 

" The triumph of liberty and reason over despotism, 
ignorance, and superstition, is an interesting event to 
the most distant spectators. But the regeneration of 
your kingdom is rendered doubly interesting to us 
inhabitants of Great Britain : for the example of your 
former abusive government proved in the last century 
extremely prejudicial to ours. It excited in our 
princes and their ministers an inordinate desire for 
power which was often hurtful and sometimes fatal to 
themselves, but always injurious to the state. 

" Accept, Sir, our sincere congratulations on the 
recovery of your ancient and free constitution and our 
warmest wishes that liberty may be permanently 
established in France. We observe for the honour of 
the age and nation that your renovation has been 
effected without a civil war, and that neither the super- 
fluous domains of the Prince nor the possessions of the 
Church have been divided among rapacious subjects 
but converted to the use of the State to which they 

1 Letter to the Lord Advocate, Feb. 27, 1798. Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. 
No. 500. 

2 Cal. Mer. June 11. ^ Cal. Mer, Sept. 2, 1790. 


belong. That some disturbances and even acts of 
violence should have attended this great Revolution is 
in no way surprising : that these have not been more 
numerous is the wonder of every politician. Our hopes 
are that your example will be universally followed, and 
that the flame you have kindled will consume the 
remains of despotism and bigotry in Europe. 

We not only hope, but are confident, that the 
National Assembly of France and the Parliament of 
Great Britain will from henceforth be inseparably 
united in promoting the peace and prosperity of the 
two kingdoms, and in diffusing those blessings through 
the whole extent of the globe. 

" We congratulate you on having an army of citizens 
and a wise monarch, who, by lending himself graciously 
to the views of his people, has added lustre to the 
House of Bourbon, and rivetted the crown of France 
on the heads of his posterity. . . . 

" Our climate is cold and our country mountainous. 
Yet since public liberty has been restored to us by the 
Revolution, our cities become daily more populated, 
our inhabitants more industrious, our mountains less 
barren, and our whole country more healthy and happy. 
Our Sovereign, the guardian of our constitution and the 
father of his people, is almost an object of our adora- 
tion, and our nobility and clergy form useful and 
illustrious members of a state where all are subject to 
the laws." 

The reply of the National Assembly was communicated to 
the members of the club at their annual dinner in July of 
the same year. II est done vrai," it ran, " qu'il existera 
bientot plus de barrieres entre TAngleterre et la France ; 
et ce grand exemple doit preparer le jour ou tons les hommes 
vent se regarder comme freres. . . . Nous pourrions dire 



aussi, pour nous servir de vos propres expressions, que le 
Roi des Fran^ais est presque Vohjet de notre adoration." 

Such were the only addresses that passed between Scotland 
and France during the Revolutionary Era. The President's 
reply was the only answer the Dundee Whigs received, and 
the patriotic societies of France did not render their action 
conspicuous by opening up a correspondence. Unlike the 
later addresses of the English political clubs, that of the 
Dundee society made no invidious reflections on the British 
constitution, but the various aspects of the new regime in 
France which were selected for commendation afford 
indirect testimony that a division of opinion regarding 
these was beginning to manifest itself in Scotland. That 
division of opinion had existed in England since the dis- 
cussion on the Army Estimates in the House of Commons 
on February 6, 1790,^ and the Dundee address was but an 
echo of that debate. Burke had stated the fatal influence 
of French despotism on the neighbouring countries, had 
animadverted on the recent disorder and confiscations, and 
had warned the House that the present distemper might 
be as contagious as the old one." Fox, on the other hand, 
had seen in the new order of government the augury of 
happier relations between Great Britain and its ancient 
enemy, and had eulogised its citizen army. These speeches 
had " an immense and immediate effect " ^ in England, and 
the address of the Dundee Whig Club shows that they excited 
some attention in Scotland ; but it was not until the publi- 
cation of Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France in 
November of the same year that these opinions in Scotland, 
as in Europe generally, became a subject of engrossing 

Three months before the appearance of that work, a 
pamphlet bearing on the same subject was published in 
^Parl. Hist, xxviii. 352 ^/f seq^ ^Ltc\!iy, Hist, of England^ v. 461. 



Edinburgh. 1 Badly arranged, and written with no distinc- 
tion of style, it made little impression at the time ; but it 
is worthy of note as a contemporary account by a French- 
man resident in Scotland of the political condition of the 
country, and of the current opinion of the French Revolu- 
tion and its probable effects. In dedicating to the members 
of the National Assembly his short delineation of the 
ecclesiastical and civil government of the freest nation upon 
earth except that which they had framed," the author did 
not do so " with a view to information of which they did not 
stand in need, but to afford his countrymen the most in- 
contestible proof of the superior excellence of their own 
constitution." ^ The effects of their labours would not be 
confined within the limits of France. The world was their 
theatre, and generations yet to come would taste the fruits 
derived from the seeds of liberty they had sown. A great and 
respectable part of the British race was prepared to second 
their views, and aided by it they must become the arbiters of 
Europe and enabled to diffuse the blessings of freedom, happi- 
ness and peace through all the nations.^ Englishmen, how- 
ever, would not adopt a revolution. There was little to 
change in the constitution. They appreciated their liberty, 
and the privileges still to be acquired were not worth the 
risk of a convulsion in the state. Among the Scots," he 
continues, " where I have already remarked that senti- 
ments of freedom are neither so lively nor so universally 
felt, these maxims are still more generally adopted." A 
majority of voices in Britain would favour only a few 
alterations in the equality and adequacy of the repre- 
sentation in Parliament, in the mode of choosing its 

^ Mons. B de, Reflections on the Causes and Probable Consequences 

of the Late Revolution in France with a View of the Ecclesiastical and 
Civil Constitution of Scotland^ (Translated), Edin. 1790. 

^ Ibid, vii. and viii. ^ Ibid. vi. 



members, and in its duration. The Majesty of the People, 
Liberty, and Reform had long been familiar to British ears, 
and it was significant that the word " Patriot was 
beginning to convey an idea of contempt and irony rather 
than of approbation. There was no distinction of ranks. 
In Scotland the clerical system was good, though not 
well paid, and hence low bred and fanatical. ^ Some remains 
of feudal institutions had still to be removed. There was 
an agitation in progress for burgh reform. In the counties 
the evil effects of superiority in creating fictitious votes 
were especially apparent. Every sentiment of liberty 
was thereby extinguished in Scotland; the commonalty 
were ignorant of every measure of Government, and fre- 
quently did not know even the names of those entrusted 
with its administration. 2 The want of juries in civil cases 
rendered the Scottish press ludicrously careful of expressing 
opinion, and hindered the diffusion of political knowledge.^ 

With regard to the current opinion of the Revolution, he 
found that the more enlightened part of the community 
viewed the transactions of the National Assembly " with 
great approbation." " The stability of the infant con- 
stitution was that alone concerning which they entertained 
a doubt." * These statements are confirmed by the few 
memoirs of the period which have come down to us.^ In 

1 Op. cit. Letter xxi. Ibid. Letter xii. ^ Ibid. Letter xv. 

'^Ibid. 6. "You say true that the French will have a hard struggle 
to go through before they fix on a proper form of government. They 
have certainly been more adventurous than wise." Rev. R. Small to Dr. A. 
Carlyle, Dec. 9, 1791. Edin. Univ. MSS. Letters of Dr. Carlyle^ No. 130. 

Every man of upright principles and sound sense must wish well to 
the cause of freedom ; but every man acquainted with the human heart 
and the principles of government is aware of the difficulties that must 
ever stand in the way in an attempt radically to alter the constitution of 
any country. . . . From this mode of reasoning, without entering into 
any particular examination of the circumstances, the true friends of 
freedom will be moderate in their congratulations of the happiness of the 
people in France." Bee^ Edin. 1791, vol. i. Jan. 26. 


Edinburgh, not only Whigs like Erskine and Fletcher 
welcomed the Revolution, but even Principal Robertson 
was dazzled by its splendour." ^ Dugald Stewart, who 
had visited Paris in the summers of 1788 and 1789 to study 
French politics on the spot, was another enthusiast. ^ In 
Professor Millar of Glasgow it excited the fondest hopes,^ 
though he reprobated the confiscation of property and the 
extinction of ranks.* Somerville, minister of Jedburgh, 
whose autobiographical memoirs present a vivid picture of 
his times, " hailed it as the dawn of a glorious day of 
universal liberty." ^ Among those who were more con- 
cerned with the stability of the new Government was 
Beattie, the poet, the author of the Essay on Truth, 
and his opinions as revealed in his correspondence 
closely parallel those of Burke. ^ " One knows not what 
to say of this wonderful revolution that is likely to take 

^ Grey Graham, Scottish Men of Letters^ 93, fn. 

2 Collected Works of Dugald Stewart^ vol. x. cxxii-cxxxv, where extracts 
from his letters from Paris are given. Writing from Edinburgh in Jan. 
1793 to his friend the Rev. Archd. Alison, he says, " I rejoice at the birth 
of your son . . . and I engage, as soon as he begins to snuff (which, I 
suppose, he will do in a dozen years hence) to make him the present of a 
very handsome box which I received lately, with the Rights of Man 
inscribed on the lid." Ibid, cxxxv. By the irony of fate this son 
was afterwards to be known as the Tory historian of the French 

^ Craig, Zz/^ of Millar^ prefixed to the Origin of Ranks ^ Edin. and Lond. 
4th edn. 1806, p. cxii et seq. One of Millar's pupils. Lord Maitland, after- 
wards Earl of Lauderdale, accompanied Dugald Stewart on one of his 
visits to Paris, and "harangued the mob in the streets 'pour la liberte.'" 
J. Rae, Life of Adam Smithy 390. 

^As became the author of the Origin of the Distinction in Ranks. 
This work is said to have been translated into French by Garat, the 
Minister of Justice after Danton, and was much esteemed on the Con- 
tinent. Craig, op. cit. Ixxvi. 

° Own Life, 264. 

^ V. quotations from Burke's correspondence in Lecky, Hist, of England, 
V. chap. xxi. 




place in France/' he writes to Mrs. Montagu on July 31, 
1789. As I wish all mankind to be free and happy, I 
should rejoice in the downfall of French despotism, if I 
thought it would give happiness to the people ; but the 
French seem to me better fitted for that sort of government 
which they want to throw off than for any other that they 
could adopt in its stead." ^ By September of the same 
year he finds Confusion worse confounded." " The 
generality are actuated by a levelling principle of the worst 
kind which one is sorry to see likely to extend its influence 
beyond the limits of France." ^ in April, 1790, in a letter 
to Sir William Forbes, he notes with pleasure " how averse 
the Parliament is to civil and ecclesiastical innovation." 

I hope," he adds, our people will take warning from 
France." ^ In the course of the same month he wrote to 
his friend Arbuthnot : "No despotism is so dreadful as 
that of the rabble : the Bastille was never so bad a thing 
as the Lantern e is. . . . The old government was not 
rigorous ; it was the mildest despotism on earth. ... I 
wish Mr. Burke would publish what he intended on the 
present state of France. He is a man of principle, and a 
friend to religion, to law, and to monarchy, as well as to 
liberty." ^ When the Reflections eventually appeared, 
Beattie, who had himself contemplated a similar publica- 
tion, felt that any attempt on his part " would be not only 
useless but impertinent." ^ 

Burke's work, which, as Beattie shows, had been awaited 
with lively feelings of expectation, is an even greater land- 
mark in the political history of Scotland than of England. 
In the latter country, as is well known, the Reflections at 
once put an end to that mingled astonishment and sym- 
pathy with which the French Revolution had hitherto 

1 Sir W. Forbes, Life of Beattie, ii. 246. Ibid. ii. 250. 

37^/^.254. 4/^:V/. 256. ^Ibid.272>. 


been regarded.^ As Mackintosh said : " That performance 
divided the nation into marked parties." Pohtical fer- 
ment, however, had long existed in England. In Scotland 
where it was as yet unknown, the discussion evoked by 
Burke's pamphlet, and more especially by the replies which 
it drew forth, was the means of awakening to political life 
every class of society, hitherto only somewhat feebly stirred 
by the narrower questions of burgh, county, or ecclesiastical 
reform. From the first Burke's publication awakened 
keen interest. All the newspapers printed long extracts, 
including not only as a matter of local interest the denuncia- 
tion of the Dundee Whig Club,^ but also those passages 
which, since the day of publication, have been regarded as 
among the finest examples of English rhetoric. Burke 
himself, writing to his Scottish friend. Sir Gilbert Elliot, 
expressed his astonishment that " about a book published 
only the ist November, there should be an attack and so 
able a defence on the iith in Edinburgh." ^ The attack 
referred to was probably that of the Edinburgh Evening 
C our ant, ^ and its criticism represented a common opinion 
of the Reflections. " In his statement of what was done 
at the Revolution of 1688 we think him unanswerable. In 

ij. Morley, Burke, 152. 

2 "These [issue of assignats] are the grand calculations on which a 
philosophical public credit is founded in France. They cannot raise 
supplies ; but they can raise mobs. Let them rejoice in the applauses of 
the club at Dundee, for their wisdom and patriotism in having thus 
applied the plunder of the citizens to the service of the state. I hear of 
no address upon this subject from the directors of the Bank of England, 
though their approbation would be of a /i///e more weight in the scale of 
credit than that of the club at Dundee. But, to do justice to the club, I 
believe the gentlemen who compose it to be wiser than they appear ; that 
they will be less liberal of their money than of their addresses ; and that 
they would not give a dog's-ear of their most rumpled and ragged Scotch 
paper for twenty of your fairest assignats." 

^ Countess of Minto, Lt/e and Letters of Sir Gilbert Elliot, i. 366, 367. 

*Nov. II, 1790. 



many of his remarks on the former and present constitu- 
tion of France he is just and sensible, but the general 
complexion of the book presents us with what we consider 
as a total dereliction of those principles which Mr. Burke 
has been for many years known to hold. ... In a word, 
such a work as the present, from any man but Mr. Burke, 
would deserve a place among the most valuable disserta- 
tions of the constitution of Great Britain, but coming from 
him it leaves us altogether at a loss to know what political 
principle or integrity means, not to speak of what is inti- 
mately connected therewith, consistency ! " ^ In the next 
issue " A Rockingham Whig " ^ combated this charge, and 
proved by citations from Burke's other writings and speeches 
that he had always been opposed to speculative principles 
in government and metaphysical considerations of the 
rights of man. 

Burke does not seem to have influenced the opinion of 
those who had already expressed their enthusiasm for the 
Revolution. Principal Robertson talked of the ravings of 
Burke " ^ and Somerville could find in the " eloquent 
publication," nothing but " the ranting declamations of 
aristocratic pride and exuberant genius." * There is no 
doubt that in official circles the book was heartily welcomed. 
As early as December, 1790, traces of its influence may be 
seen in the loyal address voted by the Town Council of 
Edinburgh on the successful issue of the negotiations with 

^Cf. Glasgow Mercury^ Nov. 9— Nov. 16, 1790. "Last Monday 
morning, died at an advanced age, the Whiggism of the Rt. Hon. Edmund 
Burke, once an eminent Patriot and Whig under the Rockingham 
Ministry, much and deeply regretted by his numerous friends and 

2 "With a signature so soothing to my ears," Burke to Elliot, op. cit. 
ibid. The writer was John Wilde, Professor of Civil Law in the Univer- 
sity of Edinburgh. V. his Address to the . . . Friends of the People^ 
Edin. 1793, PP- x-xv. 

^ Grey Graham, op. cit. 93, fn. ^ Own Life^ 264. 



Spain, which for some time had withdrawn pubHc attention 
from French affairs.^ Even the Edinburgh Revolution 
Society in November of the same year was content with 
pledging the cause of liberty throughout the world without 
making specific reference to France, and the chairman of 
the annual gathering dwelt impressively on the glories of 
that constitution " upon which other nations wished to 
model their governments but which they had not yet been 
able to effectuate/' ^ That the Edinburgh Society should 
adopt language in such striking contrast to that of the 
London Revolution Society was a sign that as yet the 
contagion from France so dreaded by Burke and his admirers 
had not spread to Scotland. Commendation of the Revolu- 
tion was " speculative and platonic " ; was confined to a 
few members of the upper and middle classes ; and had 
produced no apparent effect on the people at large. The 
style and the language of Burke made no popular appeal, 
and the price of the book was prohibitive.^ 

Of the many replies to the Reflections still addressed to 
this limited audience, two are noteworthy as the work of 
Scotsmen — the Letters on the French Revolution ^ by Thomas 
Christie, and the more famous Vindiciae Gallicae of James 
Mackintosh. Thomas Christie was the member of a Mon- 
trose family well known for its liberal opinions.^ His father, 
Alexander, was for many years provost of the burgh. His 
uncle, William, who founded in the same town the first 

Scot. Corr. vol. iv. Nov. 24, 1790. Cal. Mer. Nov. 18, 1790. 

^An abridged edition, price 8d., was published. Cal. Mer. June 18, 
1791. From the number of more popular pamphlets against the French 
Revolution issued in Scotland towards the end of 1792, it does not seem 
to have appealed any more than the original to the ordinary reader. 
Adolphus states that the price was never reduced. Hist, of Engla?td^ 
Lond. 1841, iv. 555. 

*Part i. Lond. 1791. Part ii. never appeared. 

^ For an account of the Christies v. Diet. Nat. Biog. 



Unitarian church in Scotland, pubhshed in 1791 An Essay 
on Ecclesiastical Liberty ^ in which he made an admirable 
plea for religious toleration. Like his co-religionists in 
England with whom he was closely allied, William Christie 
was an ardent admirer of the French Revolution, and did 
not refrain from bearing testimony in its favour.^ His 
brother, Alexander, as a member of the Church of Scotland, 
was censured by the Kirk Session for having " occasionally 
frequented the Unitarian Society." The Holy Scriptures, 
the Only Rule of Faith and Religious Liberty ^ was the out- 
come of this controversy in which he defended his cause 
by citing such authorities as Dr. Price and Necker, the 
French Minister ; and, " as a work eminently calculated to 
promote civil and religious liberty," he printed as an 
appendix the former's famous sermon of November 5, 1789. 
Thomas Christie, son of the provost, after spending some 
time at Edinburgh University, settled in London where he^ 
established the Analytical Review.^ In 1789 he visited Paris 
where his literary reputation and the introductions he bore 
from influential friends soon procured him intimate relations 
with Mirabeau, Sieyes, Necker and other leaders of the con- 
stitutional party. ^ In 1791 appeared his Letters on the 
French Revolution. 

^ Montrose, 1791. 

^ " The mention of the Bastille recalls to my memory the late glorious 
revolution in France in favour and approbation of which I am happy to 
bear a public and sincere testimony." Essay on Eccles. Liberty^ 26, fn. 

^ Montrose, 1790. 

*Miss Seward, the "Swan of Lichfield," characterised him as "a 
young prodigy in science and literature." Letters of Anna Seward^ i. 
Letter Ixxi. 

^ At the request of the National Assembly, Christie, in 1792, translated 
the constitution into English. Alger, Englishmen in the French Revolu- 
tion, p. 78. The French Constitutional Code as Revised, Amended, and 
Finally corrected by the National Assembly, was published by W. Creech, 
Edin. 1791. 



To his antagonist's ability and the charm of his style 
Christie was by no means indifferent. Feeling what was 
due to Mr. Burke, he apologised for not entering into an 
elaborate review of that work in which " with majestic 
grace worthy of a nobler office he conducts us to 
the Temple of Superstition," and by the magic of his 
language soothes our hearts into holy reverence and sacred 
awe." 1 But the question at issue was one of "facts 
not of declamation and oratory J' ^ and Christie, who had 
already published a sketch of the new constitution in two 
folio sheets, proceeded to refute the arguments of Burke and 
of his authority, Calonne, by a more detailed description of 
that pledge of settled government. He candidly confessed 
that Burke's method of reforming by engrafting new prin- 
ciples on the stock of old ones was in general a good one. 
But it was not the only one nor would it suit in all cases. 
" When the whole mass of juices are corrupted, as M. 
Mirabeau well observed, it will not do to cut off some of the 
members." ^ The evils that had attended this more drastic 
process — the riots, burnings, and murders — had been 
exaggerated by Burke in the highest degree. " I went over 
to Paris immediately after the king's arrival there, and I 
lived in that city six months in the middle of the great 
events then accomplishing in the most perfect harmony 
and security. I walked about everywhere, mixed with all 
classes of society, spoke my opinion publicly of every public 
measure, and was abroad at all hours, and never met with 
injury, nor even experienced alarm." * The conduct of the 
French mob, as eye-witnesses had assured him, had been 
exemplary, and if a few rich proprietors in some provinces 
had suffered, it was not till they had excited the vengeance 
of the people. Equally misinformed was Mr. Burke regard- 

1 Op. cit. 6. 
^ Ibid. 20. 

2 Ibid. 7. 
Ubid 121. 



ing the labours of the legislators, and his account of the 
mode of election to the Assembly teemed with errors." 
The method in reality " resembles the constitutions of the 
towns in Scotland where magistrates or municipal assembly 
choose an Assembly of Delegates, and these delegates appoint 
the Member of Parliament. It is far superior to it in another 
respect, for the Electoral Assemblies of France are chosen by 
the Primary Assemblies which consist of all the citizens 
except paupers, servants and bankrupts ; while the dele- 
gates of Scotland are appointed by municipal officers who 
elect one another ad infinitum, without the concurrence of, 
and frequently contrary to, the general service of the 
citizens." ^ Among the benefits he enumerated as resulting 
from such a constitution was the simplification of the laws ; 
and the history of his own country appeared to justify the 
change. " The old Scotch Acts rarely contain so many 
lines as the modern British ones do pages. Yet they 
occasioned fewer controversies than arise from the present 
method of multiplying words without wisdom." ^ Interest- 
ing as the work is, and still valuable for its account of the 
state of Paris during the earlier stages of the Revolution, 
it was soon to be discounted as a contribution to the con- 
troversy by the later tragic developments. But indirectly 
the author had much influence in Scotland. His native 
Montrose and the district around were soon to become 
notorious as one of the centres of democratic propaganda, 
and the Government was led to believe that this was 
largely due to Thomas Christie, the friend of Condorcet. 

Like Christie, James Mackintosh, the author of the 
Vindiciae Gallicae^ had been subject to liberal impressions 
from his youth. Even as a schoolboy he had evinced a 
decided interest in politics, and had conducted in the class- 

1 Op. cit. 155-6. Ibid. 27 J, {n. 

^The references are to the 4th edition, Lond. 1792. 


room a series of debates on the American War, based on the 
reports of the Aberdeen Journal, the only newspaper then 
circulating in the north of Scotland. ^ At Aberdeen Uni- 
versity he came under the tuition of Professor Dunbar, 
a man of strong Whig principles ; ^ and when later he 
proceeded to Edinburgh University, the " Speculative " 
and other societies, testifying to what he himself calls a 
general " fermentation of mind," provided scope for the 
maturing of his powers. In 1788 he went up to London 
where he attracted the attention of Horne Tooke and other 
advanced reformers, and displayed his early interest in the 
cause of freedom by contributing articles to the Oracle 
on the affairs of Belgium and France. In April, 179 1, he 
published his brilliant Vindiciae Gallicae, which was at once 
received as an adequate answer to the Reflections. An 
important section of the book dealt with the new constitu- 
tion of France, for a more complete account of which he 
referred his readers to Christie. More important for our 
purpose are the fifth and sixth chapters where, in vindicating 
English admirers of the Revolution and in speculating on 
its probable consequences, he eulogised the early spirit of 
freedom that had distinguished his countrymen in the past, 
and called upon his fellow Scots to emulate the fame of their 
ancestors. When " the science which teaches the rights of 
man and the eloquence which kindles the spirit of freedom 
had for ages been buried with the other monuments of the 
wisdom and relics of the genius of antiquity,'' Buchanan 

^ R. J. Mackintosh, Life of Sir James Mackintosh, i. 8, fn. 

2 "In spring, 1782, when the news arrived of the dismissal of Lord 
North, he met me in the street and told me, in his pompous way, ' Well, 
Mr. M., I congratulate you, the Augean stable is cleansed.'" Ibid. 12. 
Mr. Ogilvie, another of his professors, published An Essay on the Right 
of Property in Land., which "by its bold agrarianism attracted some 
attention during the ferment of speculation occasioned by the French 
Revolution." Ibid. 17. 



was the first scholar of the Revival of Letters " to catch 
the noble flame of republican enthusiasm." ^ The Revolu- 
tion Whigs did not escape the Toryism of an age 
which saw the University of Oxford offer its congratu- 
lations to Sir George Mackenzie for his confutation of 
the abominable doctrines of Buchanan and Milton. Hence 
the absurd debates in the Convention in England about 
such palliative phrases as " abdicate," " desert," etc. It 
was the Scottish Parliament which cut the matter short by 
using " the correct and manly expression that James II. 
had forfeited the throne." ^ 

It was the desire of the English admirers of the Revolution 
of 1688 to remedy grievances according to its principles.^ 
What was the source of these grievances — the remains of 
feudal tyranny still suffered to exist in Scotland, the press 
fettered, the right of trial by jury abridged, manufacturers 
proscribed and hunted down by excise ? " No branch of 
the Legislature represented the people." ^ All therefore 
should unite to procure a reform in the representation of 
the people. The grievances did not justify a change by 
violence ; but they were making rapid progress to that 
fatal state in which they would both justify and produce it. 
There was only one opinion about the French Revolution 
on which its friends and enemies were agreed. Its influence 
would not be confined to France. It would produce im- 
portant changes in the general state of Europe. These 
effects would depend on the stability of the new settlement, 
and that very moment (August 25, 1791) was peculiarly 
critical.^ A confederacy of despots against the new regime 
was announced. But even if war did break out, there could 

^ Op. tit. 313. " It is also worthy of note that in the year of the French 
Revolution, 1789, an English translation [of the De Jure Reg7ii\ was 
published in London." Hume Brown, George Buchanan^ 292. 

2 Vind. Gall. 319. ^ Ibid. 344. ^ Ibid. 349. ^ Ibid. 360. 



be no doubt as to the result. History recorded no example 
where foreign force had subjugated a powerful and gallant 
people governed by the most imperious passion that can 
sway the human breast. The ancestors of a nation now 
stigmatised for servility felt that powerful sentiment. The 
Scottish nobles contending for their liberty under Robert 
the Bruce spoke thus to the Pope : Non pugnamus 
propter divitias, honores, aut dignitates, sed propter 
Lihertatem tantummodo quam nemo bonus nisi simul cum 
vita amittit ! " Reflecting on the various fortunes of his 
countrymen, he could not exclude from his mind the com- 
parison between their present reputation and their ancient 
character — " terrarum et libertatis extremos " — nor could 
he forget the honourable reproach against the Scottish name 
in the character of Buchanan by Thuanus, " Libertate genti 
innata in regium fastigium accibior." This melancholy 
prospect was, however, relieved by the hope that a gallant 
and enlightened people would not be slow in renewing the 
era of such reproaches.^ Thus did Mackintosh trust that 
even in Scotland the Revolution would serve, not as a model, 
but to invigorate the spirit of freedom." 

Among the author's friends in Edinburgh, the Vindiciae 
was highly appreciated. ^ Professor Wilde, writing in June, 
1791, though severely critical of some passages, declared 
that he was inter ignes luna minores." ^ None of the 
Literati had bought the book save Tytler, who said that 
there was a good deal of thought in it. Malcolm Laing 

1 Op. cit. 362, fn. '^Life^ i. 76. 

2 Wilde published a voluminous Address to the Lately formed SoJety of 
the Friends of the People. Edin. 1793. It was partly a vindication of 
Burke's consistency (v. anie^ p. 52) and partly a reply to Mackintosh and 
other defenders of the French Revolution. According to Brougham 
{^Memoirs., i. 231), Burke "conceived the greatest admiration" for Wilde 
in consequence, but the book does not merit particular notice. V. also 
J. Wilde's Sequel to An Address to the lately formed Society of the Friends 
of the People. Edin. 1797. 



affirmed that it was the best he had ever read. Grant of 
Corrimonie thought it " admirable." Thomas Reid of 
Glasgow, the founder of the Scottish school of philosophy, 
characterised the Vindiciae as " one of the most ingenious 
essays in political philosophy he had ever met with." ^ Nor 
is it likely that the case of Robert Haldane of Airthrey, 
a typical country gentleman, was exceptional. Before the 
French Revolution, having nothing to rouse his attention, 
he lived in the country almost wholly occupied in the usual 
pursuits. Like most of his class he had read Delolme's 
Treatise and Blackstone's Commentaries, and was a sincere 
admirer of the British constitution. The first books he 
read on the subject of government after the change that had 
taken place in France were Burke's Reflections, Mackintosh's 
Vindiciae Gallicae, and afterwards some of the pamphlets 
of Christie, Paine, Priestley, and others. Although I did 
not exactly agree with these writers," he says in his Address 
on Politics,'^ a scene of amelioration and improvement in 
the affairs of mankind seemed to open itself to my mind 
which I trusted would speedily take place in the world, such 
as the universal abolition of slavery, of war, and of many 
other miseries that mankind were exposed to. . . . I 
rejoiced in the experiment that was making in France of 
the construction of a government at once from its foundation 
upon a regular plan, which Hume in his Essays speaks of 
as an event so much to be desired." Mackintosh exerted 
considerable influence on the better educated type of 
reformer in Scotland. His list of the defects in the constitu- 
tion was often the theme of the abler democratic pamphlets 
of the day ; and, as we shall see, his references to Scottish 
history were not forgotten. 

^A. Campbell Fraser, Thomas Reid (Famous Scots Series), ii6. 

Address to the Public concerning Political Opinio7is. . . . Edin. 1800, 
p. 4. 



Meanwhile the works of another writer, Thomas Paine, 
were being disseminated among a large section of the com- 
munity indifferent to the charms of rhetoric or to the 
niceties of political controversy. The first part of his 
Rights of Man appeared in February, 1791, and was followed 
by the second in February, 1792.^ Paine did not make 
direct references to Scotland as his friend Christie had done, 
nor could he like Mackintosh appeal to Scotsmen as a 
fellow-countryman. But with dogmatic assurance, and a 
homeliness of illustration that gave vigour to his style, 
Paine exposed the grievances of the nation more definitely 
than either of these opponents of Burke, by an elaborate com- 
parison between the English and the French Constitutions. 
He showed that every man in France paying sixty sous a 
year in taxes had a vote.^ The Members of Parliament 
were distributed according to the number of taxable inhabi- 
tants.^ Parliament was elected for two years. There 
were neither oppressive game laws nor chartered towns 
enjoying monopolies in trade and election. Corruption was 
unknown since placemen and pensioners were excluded 
from the Assembly.* Taxes were thus directed to their 
legitimate end, and were neither dissipated in maintaining 
a corrupt set of courtiers nor increased by war. The powers 
of peace and war resided in the nation in France.^ Nobility 
had been done away with, and the peer was exalted into 
the man.^ Primogeniture no longer perpetuated such a 
class in society. Tithes were abolished, and a universal 
right of conscience was established. All these principles 
were derived from the Declaration of the Rights of Man 
which Paine printed in full.^ How were such rights to 
prevail in England ? Not under the existing system of 
Parhament. There was a paradox in the idea of vitiated 

1 Works^ ed. M. D. Conway, vol. ii. ^ Ibid. 312. ^ Ibid. 313. 
^ Ibid. 31 S' ^ Ibid. 316. ^ Ibid. 31 g. Ibid. -i^^i et seq. 



bodies reforming themselves. " The true constitutional 
method would be by a general convention elected for the 
purpose/' ^ Burke had affirmed that a hereditary crown 
was necessary to preserve the liberties of England. Paine's 
answer was Lafayette's phrase, " For a Nation to be 
free, it is sufficient that she wills it." ^ 

As events were to prove, Paine's ideas on the grievances 
of the nation, and even on the manner of removing them, 
found ready acceptance in Scotland. Not only were the 
defects of the constitution glaringly exhibited in its political 
state. The progress of industry and trade since the 'Forty- 
Five was creating new social conditions making for inde- 
pendence of thought and action among the middle and 
lower classes, and towards the close of the century a new 
spirit of energy accelerated these effects. The Government 
itself showed some signs of activity. In 1784 a contem- 
porary newspaper could point to the large sums of money 
voted for the construction of public works and to the 
Parliamentary committee on the fisheries as likely to stimu- 
late Scottish enterprise.^ It was by a grant from the funds 
of the Forfeited Estates that the Forth and Clyde canal was 
completed in 1790. The prosperity of the Carron Iron 
Works since 1760 had rendered the canal an economic 
necessity.* In the twenty-eight years succeeding their 
establishment the annual output of iron was 1500 tons, but 
before the beginning of the nineteenth century foundries 
had been set up in various parts of the kingdom, so that by 
1796 the production of iron had risen to 18,600 tons per 
annum. ^ The manufacture of linen, still the staple industry 
of Scotland, flourished from Glasgow in the west to Dun- 

1 Op. cit. ii. 312. '^Ibid. 363. 

"^Cal Mer. Sept. 6, 1784. 

■^W. L. Mathieson, The Awakening of Scotland^ 250. 
^'^^ Mackintosh, Hist, of Civilisation in Scotland^ iv. 347. 



termline in the east. In the counties of Forfar, Perth and 
Fife, however, was to be found the greatest number of 
looms. In Dunfermhne alone they had increased from 900 
in 1788 to 1200 in 1792. ^ Nearly twelve million yards 
were manufactured in 1768, thirteen million in 1778, and 
twenty and a half million in 1788.2 Paisley, whose trade 
in silk outrivalled for a time that of Spitalfields, had 1767 
looms at work in various textile industries in 1766. In 
1773 the number was computed to be 2233, and in 1792, 
3602.^ In 1782 Dale in partnership with Arkwright set up 
three cotton mills at New Lanark ; and the new industry 
spread with such rapidity over the whole district of the 
Clyde that by 1790 it had almost superseded that of linen 
in Glasgow and of silk in Paisley.* As in England, such 
prosperity was accompanied by an increase of population 
and' the rise of large towns which further emphasised the 
anomalies of burgh government and representation. In 
1755 the population of Edinburgh was 47,815, of Glasgow 
30,000, of Paisley 6799, ^f Perth 9019, and of Dundee 
12,477. By the year 1795 Edinburgh had 71,645 inhabi- 
tants, Glasgow 56,028, Paisley 24,592, and Dundee 23,500. 
Perth in 1790 had a population of 19,871.^ 

During the same period wages steadily advanced. " The 
mason, the weaver, the carpenter who could in 1750 only 
earn his 6d. a day, in 1790 made his is. or is. 2d." ^ Many 
Paisley firms in 1785 had a weekly wage bill of £500.*^ Under 
such conditions, these classes began to assert themselves. 

^ E. Henderson, Annals of Dunfermline. 
^Bremner, Industries of Scotland^ 220. 

3 Metcalfe, History of Paisley^ 460. * Mathieson, op. cit. 372. 

^Parochial Statistics of Scotland i7S5-^795- Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 
15746. These were compiled by George Chalmers from Dr. Webster's 
and Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Accounts of Scotland. 

6H. G. Graham, Social Life of Scotland., 261. 

'^Social England., ed. H. D. Traill, v. 691. 



" A spirit of independence in the progress of opulence has 
arisen especially among the more substantial part of the 
people/' wrote the parish minister of Wigtown in the 
Statistical Account of Scotland.'^ Less friendly observers 
noted the same effects in the larger towns. One of Beattie's 
correspondents, referring to the meal riots in Peterhead in 
1793, declared that they were " the evil fruits of our manu- 
factories." " Numbers of scoundrels are brought from all 
parts," he wrote, " knaves who hardly ever possessed a 
whole shilling at once before ; they are introduced to high 
daily pay ; they think themselves equal to any persons 
they can see ; they are rude, insolent and riotous." ^ Even 
in the laws of the Leadhill miners Ramsay of Ochtertyre 
detected " somewhat of a republican spirit." " They 
anxiously stipulated that on no pretext shall the Earl of 
Hopetoun and his factors, or the company's manager or 
deputy, attempt to influence the proceedings or resolves of 
the society." ^ Strikes, then known as " combinations," 
were another new phenomenon of industrial life which pro- 
voked the adverse comment of conservative minds. The 
first of any importance seems to have occurred in July, 1787, 
when the weavers of Glasgow refused to work at the usual 
rates of pay. Having assembled on Glasgow Green, they 
proceeded to appoint committees " to meet with the masters, 
receive their ultimatums, and report." Negotiations having 
proved fruitless, the strikers took the webs out of the looms 
of those willing to work and carried them in procession 
through the town. A riot followed ; the military were 
called out ; and as a result of the firing that ensued three 
of the weavers were killed and three mortally wounded. In 

^ Vol. xiv. 483. 2 yi^ Forbes, Beattie and His Friends^ 281. 

2 Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteetith Century, ed. A. Allardyce, 
ii. 324-5. " Yet in their proper business," Ramsay characteristically adds, 
" they were obliged to give up their ?iatural rights and obey the commands 
of their superiors without calling them in question." 


the following July, Lord Eskgrove sentenced one of the 
strikers to be whipped and banished for seven years. ^ 

In the country the general improvement in agriculture was 
effecting similar changes. * ' I travelled, ' ' says a writer in 1790, 
" through some places where not many years ago the people 
were wretchedly poor, want sat upon every brow, hunger was 
painted on every face; neither their tattered clothes nor their 
miserable cottages were a sufficient shelter from the cold ; 
now the labourers have put off the long clothing, the tardy 
pace, the lethargic look of their fathers, for the short doublet, 
the linen trousers, the quick pace of men who are labouring 
for their own behoof, and work up to the spirit of their cattle, 
and the rapid revolution of the threshing-machine." ^ 

To this independence of thought was now joined an 
interest in politics, occasioned by the upheaval in France,^ 
and conditioned by the spread of education. Although the 
standard of teaching degenerated during the latter half of 
the century, a school was yet to be found in nearly every 
parish, and such schools were supplemented in many cases 
by those of the Society for the Propagation of Christian 
Knowledge.* Ability to read and write was thus com- 
paratively widespread, and was remarked by foreign visitors.^ 

1 Scots. Mag, July and Sept. 1787, July 1788. Burnett gives the gener- 
ally accepted view of "combinations" at this time. "There is hardly 
any offence more dangerous in its consequences to the public at large." 
Crhninal Law, chap. xii. 

2 Quoted by Graham, op. cit. 214. 

^"The French Revolution first raised a general curiosity, and news- 
papers were generally sought after, procured, and read." Jas. Mitchell, 
Kirriemuir (to Henry Dundas?). Scot. Corr. vol. vi. Nov. 29, 1792. 

* T. Pettigrew Young, Histoire de V Enseignement en j^cosse, chap. vi. 
In only four parishes was there no school. Ibid. 150. 

^Cf. Mons. B de, op. cit. pp. 160 and 161. "This is perhaps the 

only country in the world where all are taught to read and write. . . . 
With respect to education, the peasantry of Scotland as far excel those of 
England, as the latter are superior to the same order of men in those 
nations which adhere to the Catholic religion." 




Towards the close of the century there arose a demand for 
Hbraries,^ and reading clubs were formed. Even in country 
districts debating societies were not unknown. In manu- 
facturing towns and the larger villages the mill was beginning 
to provide a natural means of social union for discussion ^ 
and quicker methods left the home working weaver free to 
devote some time to public affairs. The desire for news- 
papers testified to this new interest. " Although the parish 
consists wholly of the poorer ranks of society," wrote the 
minister of Auchterderran in 1790, " newspapers are very 
generally read and attended to, and the desire for them 
increases." ^ "An attention to public affairs," wrote 
another, " a thing formerly unknown among the lower 
ranks, pretty generally prevails now. Not only the farmers, 
but many of the tradesmen, read the newspapers and take 
an interest in the measures of Government."* The secular 
spirit, always associated with material prosperity, was 
beginning to affect the lower, as it had already affected the 
higher ranks of society ; and the same acuteness which the 
former had displayed in religious controversy was now to 
be transferred to political discussion.^ The year 1792 was 
to show how far the writings of Paine had replaced Boston's 
Crook in the Lot, the Fourfold State, and Bunyan's Pilgrim's 
Progress ^ as the favourite reading of a large section of the 
Scottish people. 

^ J. Colville, By-ways of Scottish History, 274. 
^Cf. Gait, Annals of the Parish, chap. xxix. 

3 Stat. Acc. of Scot. vol. i. 457. ^ Ibid. vol. xiv. 483, Wigtown. 

^ Referring to the growth of political discussion among his parishioners, 
the minister of Urr (Kirkcudbrightshire) wrote : " In a quarter where 
(till of late) religious controversies used to be agitated with great freedom 
and warmth, it is not to be supposed that the minds of men should be 
deprived of that acuteness which results from such disquisitions." Stat. 
Acc. of Scot. vol. xi. 79. 

* These, according to Somerville, were to be found " in almost every 
cottage." Own Life, 350. 



The Tory riot at Birmingham in 1791, and the rise of the 
democratic societies during the same year, showed that in 
England the writings of Burke and of Paine were beginning 
to influence popular action. It was not until the middle of the 
following year that riots in Perth, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh, 
revealed similar tendencies at work in Scotland. By that 
time the vague sense of grievance created by the existing 
political conditions in Scotland, and fostered by such publi- 
cations as the Rights of Man, had been rendered more definite 
by the action of the Government, represented by Henry 
Dundas, now de facto " King of Scotland. The rejection 
of the petition in favour of the repeal of the Test Act in so 
far as it applied to Scotland, the Corn Bill of 1791, the oppo- 
sition to burgh reform and to the abolition of the slave 
trade, and the issue of the proclamation against seditious 
writings, had added fuel to the flame of popular dis- 

As has already been noted. Burke had avowed his dread 
of the contagious example of France as early as February, 
1790, and he had stated his views with greater precision in 
the debates in the House regarding the repeal of the Test 
and Corporation Acts. In their catechisms the dissenters 
evinced a decided hostility to the Established Church, and 
from the praise of the French Revolution by two of their 


leading divines,^ he inferred that the Church of England was 
" in a much more serious danger than the Church of France 
a year or two ago/' In rejecting by 294 votes to 105 a 
motion which in the previous year had only been defeated 
by 20, the House showed that it shared Burke's appre- 
hensions. ^ 

This debate had been followed by Dr. SomerviUe, minister 
of Jedburgh, with " vigilant anxiety." ^ Certain statements 
made by Pitt and Fox induced him to believe that Parlia- 
ment might be willing to relieve members of the Kirk of 
Scotland from the operation of the Test Act. Accordingly, 
through his instrumentality, there came before the General 
Assembly of May, 1790, an overture to the effect that the 
extension to Scotland of the Test Act of Charles II. was a 
violation of the privileges stipulated to them by the Treaty 
of Union, and injurious to the interests of religion and 
morality." In the discussion which ensued, the motion 
was strenuously opposed by all the lay members of the 
Assembly, including the Lord Advocate and the President 
of the Court of Session, whose speeches reflected the spirit 
of the debates in Parliament earlier in the year.* It was 
urged that the times were inauspicious, and that by such 
an innovation the public peace might be endangered. An 
able speech by Sir Henry Moncreiff, one of the leaders of 
the Popular Party, enabled Somerville to carry the day, and 
he was empowered to proceed to London in charge of a peti- 
tion to Parliament. Accompanied by his friend. Sir Gilbert 
Elliot, who had promised his assistance, he interviewed the 
most prominent Parliamentary leaders with the view of 
soliciting their support. Dundas " frankly owned " that 
he was in favour of the proposal, but, as the Archbishop 
of Canterbury was adverse, he wished it to be with- 

^ Dr. Priestley and Dr. Price. ^ Pari. Hist, xxviii. 431 et seq. 

3 Own Life, chap. vi. passim, * Cal. Mer. May 31, June 3, 5, 7, 1790. 



drawn. 1 Such a reception was ominous, and when Sir Gilbert 
ElHot presented the petition in the House on May 10, 1791, 
it only secured 62 votes. The Lord Advocate, ^ Robert 
Dundas, urged that the tenor of the petition was against 
the Treaty of Union, and his uncle in the same strain declared 
that any attempt to repeal the Test Act " would be playing 
a shameful game at fast and loose with England, and retreat- 
ing from our contract after we had got possession of great 
and invaluable benefits which she could not retake from 
us." 3 Such was the beginning of the adverse influence of 
the French Revolution on Scottish reforms, and on this 

1 The Moderate Party in Scotland had warned the Archbishop. 
" Being at a distance from Town and ignorant of the Progress of Dr. 
Somerville's Petition, I thought your letter, and the Protest deserved the 
Archbishop of Canterbury's Attention, and I therefore took the Liberty 
of sending them to His Grace, who has expressed himself obliged to me for 
the Communication. It was natural that our Dissenters, who wish to have 
the Corporation and Test Acts repealed, should endeavour to call upon 
your Assembly to their Assistance. But their Alliance with the Protest- 
ing Catholics is rather an extraordinary Step. It is fortunate for our 
Establishment in the Church that its Enemies have loudly declared their 
Enmity to our Establishment in the State, and while we have such strong 
Proofs of their eager Desire to convert our Parliament into a National 
Assembly, and to introduce all the levelling Projects of the French 
Patriots into this Country, there seems to be little Probability of their 
being successful in any Application to the Legislature at this Juncture." 
Dr. Douglas, Bp. of Carlisle, to Dr. Carlyle, April 4, 1791. Edin. Univ. 
MSS. Letters of Dr. Carlyle, No. 29. 

2 Dr. Hill, the leader of the Moderates, seems to have supplied him 
with arguments against the motion. Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500, 
Mar. 14, 1791. 

^ Pari. Hist. xxix. 500. Burke, "from prudential reasons," took no part 
in the debate. "He said ... he had never heard the Test Act com- 
plained of, and never expected that an application for the repeal of it 
would have come from the clergy of the Church of Scotland, who, on 
former occasions, appeared culpably obsequious to all the measures of 
government. . . . A predominating dread of innovation seemed to engross 
all Mr. Burke's thoughts and feelings at this time. When he spoke of 
the French Revolution he grew warm and animated. He showed me a 
few letters which he had lately received from France giving an account 
of the multiplied atrocities arising from the dissolution of the Govern- 
ment." Somerville, op. cit. p. 251. 


occasion there was nothing in the petition itself, nor in the 
poHtical state of the country, to justify the attitude of 
the Government. 1 

Two months later, the Birmingham riot proved that 
Burke's fears and prejudices were spreading beyond the 
confines of Parliament. ^ But neither at this time nor later 
did the rank and file of the Scottish people make any 
turbulent demonstrations in favour of Church and Crown. 
The dramatic incident of Varennes had renewed public 
interest in French affairs, ^ and in Edinburgh, Glasgow, 
Dundee, and other towns, the fall of the Bastille was duly 

^ " The rejection of the petition from the General Assembly of the 
Church of Scotland we do not class among the symptoms of amendment 
in our constitution. What was requested was moderate and just. Could 
any evil have arisen from granting that request, it might have been 
rejected, but that was neither proved nor even asserted, and indeed can- 
not possibly exist." Cal. Mer. May 21, 1791. 

2 Full accounts are to be found in the Scottish press. V. CaL Mer. 
July 21-25. 

^ On this event there appeared in the Cal. Mer. " An Heroic Tale, 
Translated from the French of M. la Fontaine the Younger." He tells 

How they were stopt in all their glory. 
A fly old soldier twigged the Queen 

Whom he had seen, 

Like Mr. Burke, some years ago, 
And took it in his head to know. 
He then went on, with reason, to suppose. 
And soaking till he look'd as wise 
As ever he was known to look, 

When from a nook. 

Out popt La Reiney 

That is the Queen, 
Like a delightful vision from above. 

Or Queen of Love 

Descending in her car. 
And glittefing like the morning star. 

In justice be it known 
This latter line is not my own. 
But written by one Master Burke. 

Cal. Mer. July 7, 1791 


commemorated. Yet these celebrations passed off as 
quietly as those of the London Revolution Society to which 
prominent Scottish officials had been expressly invited. ^ 
At the Glasgow dinner where Lieut. -Colonel Dalrymple of 
Fordell and Professor Millar presided, the toasts included 
the standing army of France, the natural rights of man, and 
the abohtion of the slave trade. ^ At Dundee the Revolution 
Society pledged the rights of men, an equal representation 
of the people, a speedy abolition of the slave trade, and the 
abolition of all religious tests for civil offices.^ Two groups 
of admirers of the French Revolution joined to com- 
memorate in Edinburgh " an event so interesting to mankind 
as the redemption of twenty-six millions from servitude, an 
event that promised unexampled happiness to the human 
race." * On this occasion. Mackintosh, Paine, and Priestley 
were all toasted with distinguished applause." ^ Even 
as far north as Portsoy, Alexander Leith, a distiller, " by 
distributing a considerable quantity of spirits, procured a 
mob to assemble to celebrate the anniversary of the French 
Revolution, which was accordingly done in the most tumul- 
tuous manner by firing cannon, etc." ^ 

^ On June 27, 1791, R. Dundas forwarded to London an invitation which 
he had received to dinner at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, the Strand, 
to celebrate the second anniversary of the French Revolution, " to show 
how industrious the Revolutionists are in propagating their intended anni- 
versary. ... I presume every man in Scotland whose name appears in a 
Scots Almanac is honoured with a similar invitation." Scot. Corr. vol. iv. 

"-Edinburgh Herald^ July 18. Ibid. July 20. 

^ The second advertisement added: "Though the lateness of this call 
to the friends of Liberty and of Mankind must operate in rendering the 
Meeting more thinly attended than might otherwise be expected from the 
ancient independent character of the Scots nation, yet the proposers are 
satisfied their numbers will be so considerable as to accomplish the end 
they have in view, which is nothing more than a public avowal that the 
principles of liberty are cherished in Edinburgh, as well as in London 
and in Dublin." Edinburgh Herald^ July 6. 

5 Cal. Mer. July 16. ^ Scot. Corr. vol. v. June 13, 1792. 


Though the Lord Provost of Edinburgh sent Henry 
Dundas the names of those who were present at Fortune's 
Tavern, none of these proceedings seem to have given rise 
to any anxiety on the part of the authorities. The pro- 
vost's hst included such advocates as John Clerk, Jr., of 
Eldin, Malcolm Laing, afterwards known as an historian of 
Scotland, John Millar, the Glasgow professor's son, Archi- 
bald Fletcher, the leader of the burgh reform movement, 
Fergusson of Craigdarroch, various merchants and " writers," 
and some fifteen university students, one of whom was John 
Allen, later of Holland House fame.^ " If any judgment 
is to be formed from the present sample," commented the 
provost, " they do not seem qualified to do much mischief 
in this or any other country. The meeting I can assure 
you. Sir, incurred the universal censure of the community, 
in which, with I believe as few exceptions as in any other 
place whatever, the greatest harmony, peace, and respect 
for the present government prevail." ^ 

An Act which came into force in November of the same 
year had ultimately more effect in undermining this pre- 
vailing respect for the Government than any annoyance at 
the failure to repeal the Test Act, or even enthusiasm for 
what were beginning to be known as " French Principles." 
In the recess of 1790, a report of the Privy Council on the 
question of the regulation of corn was widely circulated to 
prepare the nation for the new Corn Bill which was dis- 
cussed during the ensuing session. Hitherto the corn laws 

1 Allen and James Craig, afterwards Sir James Gibson Craig, took a 
leading part in the preparations. John Allen, Inquiry into the Rise and 
Growth of the Royal Prerogative in England^ a new edn. with . . . bio- 
graphical notices. Lond. 1849. 

"^Scot. Corr. vol. iv. July 15, 1791. In all seventy-three were present. 
Another dinner was held in the house of Stewart, Royal Exchange, where 
the low price of the ticket, half-a-crown, attracted "Joseph Lauchlan, J. 
Fairbairn and other violent reformers." Ibid. 



had been of a more or less temporary nature, but it was 
hoped that the Bill, following the lines of the report, 
would permanently solve the difficulty of providing the 
British Isles with food supplies.^ The main feature of 
the new Bill (which 'was highly approved of by the landed 
interest) was the giving of bounties to encourage expor- 
tation and the imposing of duties to restrain importation. 
Against such a principle the growing manufacturing 
centres in the west made vigorous protests. The Town 
Council of Glasgow, among others, declared that the 
state of the manufactures of Scotland rendered a free 
importation of com and meal at all times necessary. ^ 
More significant of the opposition was a meeting of 
thirty-two delegates from the Incorporated Trades and 
Friendly Societies of Paisley, who passed a resolution that 
the new regulations adversely affected " the peace and 
welfare of the labouring poor who are the radical instru- 
ments of British opulence and prosperity." ^ Apart from 
the principles of the Bill, there were definite grievances in 
its actual provisions. Oatmeal, for example, could be 
imported into England when the price of oats was i6s. a 
quarter, but not into Scotland until it exceeded i6s. per boll, 
that is, 19s. a quarter. It was also urged that, as there were 
no regular com markets in Scotland, the price of meal should 
be regulated by the price of the meal itself, and not by that 
of oats, as was proposed. Further, for the purposes of the 
Act, Scotland was divided into four districts. The average 
price of grain obtained by the sheriff in each district deter- 
mined the importation of cereals for three months, and 
their exportation for one month, throughout that district. 
When the price of wheat was under 44s. a quarter, a bounty 

^ Bee, Edin. 1791, i. 304. An abstract of the Corn Act as it affected 
Scotland is to be found in vol. vi. p. 17 et seq. 

-Edin. Herald, Jan. 31, 1791. ^ Ibid. Feb. 2, 1791. 


of 5s. a quarter was allowed ; when it was at or above 46s., 
exportation was forbidden ; and at or above 50s., import 
duty was imposed according to a sliding scale. Little care 
was taken to group districts according to their fertility. 
Grain-producing counties were joined to others which were 
not. Thus prices were kept up, and the ports of a district 
closed, which otherwise would have been open. Before the 
Bill finally became law, the more clamant objections to it 
had been removed ; but when to its vexatious regulations, 
carried out with all the notorious harshness of Scottish 
excise officials, was added the scarcity of the year 1792, it 
became a fruitful source of local disturbance and of demo- 
cratic invective. 

Dundas appears to have taken no active share in the Corn 
Bill debates, though he incurred all the odium excited by 
the administration of the law ; but the part he bore in 
opposing burgh reform, and the abolition of the slave trade, 
and in issuing the proclamation against seditious writings still 
further embittered his relations with the lower classes whose 
interest in political affairs was steadily increasing. In 
May, 1791, Sheridan moved in the House of Commons that 
the several petitions, and other accounts and papers pre- 
sented in the last Parliament be referred to a committee." ^ 
When Dundas opposed the motion on the ground that 
the session was too far advanced for the magistrates 
to attend in person, the House agreed, on the suggestion 
of Fox, to take the matter into consideration early next 
session. In the interval signs were not wanting that the 
subject was exciting keener attention than before. In 
April, 1790, the London committee of the burgesses had 
warned the burgh reformers that their cause was being 
compromised by the alarm of the French Revolution to 
which some of them had referred in their printed proceed- 

^ Pari. Hist. xxix. 639. 



ings. This induced Henry Erskine to bring forward a 
motion in their annual convention of the same year that 
their proposals ** had not the remotest tendency to alter or 
infringe in any respect the political institutions of their 
country/' ^ Outside the Whig ranks in Scotland, however, 
the movement was definitely associated with the momentous 
changes abroad. The Historical Register, a new organ of 
advanced opinion, complained that the agitation was 
" carried on more by the spirit of individuals than the 
united endeavours of the people " ; but it asserted that 
*' the example of some other states of Europe who had so 
nobly and so successfully asserted the rights of man could 
not fail to awaken the attention of Scotsmen to their true 
interest, after which it was impossible that they could long 
continue in a state of wretched slavery." ^ ^t a meeting 
of the Glasgow Society for Burgh Reform in March, 1792, 
it was reported ^ that, " along with several letters from 

1 Fletcher, op. cit. 109. 2 October, 1791. 

2 Cal. Mer. March 24, 1792. In January, 1792, a subscription had been 
opened in Glasgow " to aid the French in carrying on the war against the 
emigrant princes, or any foreign power by whom they were attacked." 
"It is said that £\ioo have already been subscribed." Contemporary 
newspaper quoted in Chambers's Life and Works of Bur?is^ ed. 
W. Wallace, vol. iii. 319. Thomas Reid seems to have been among those 
who remitted money to the National Assembly. M. Forbes, Beattie and 
His Friends^ 273. One of Reid's university colleagues, John Anderson, 
was in Paris when Louis XVI. was brought back from Varennes. He 
presented to the French people the model of a gun of his own design 
which was hung up in the hall of the Convention with the inscription, 
" The gift of Science to Liberty." Guns of this pattern are said to have 
been used with great effect at the battle of Maubeuge in June, 1792. By 
means of another of his inventions — small paper balloons varnished with 
boiled tar — revolutionary manifestos were sent across the hostile frontiers 
of Germany and Spain. Glasgow Courier^ April 3 and 5, 1792 ; Alger, 
Englishmen in the French Revolutio7i^ 52 ; Chambers's Biog. Diet, of 
E7ninent Scotsmen j Glasgow and the French Revolution^ a paper by the 
present writer in the Transactio7is of the Franco- Scottish Society^ Edin. 
1912. In Feb. 1792, Burns sent four carronades as a present to the 
French Assembly. Chambers, op. cit. ibid. 


societies in that city testifying their concurrence with the 
plan of reform and offering very hberal subscriptions for 
its support, the Society was presented with a box containing 
an elegant silver medal." On one side was engraved the 
following inscription : " Men are by nature free and equal 
in respect of their rights ; hence all civil or political dis- 
tinctions are derived from the people, and can be founded 
only on public utility. . . . The deprivation of rights, or 
the abuse of power, justifies resistance and demands 
redress. . . . Public justice, liberty of conscience, trial by 
jury, the freedom of the press, the freedom of election, and 
an equal representation, ought ever to be held sacred and 
inviolable." On the other side were the words, " Glasgow 
Society for Borough Reform. Friends of reform, be unani- 
mous, active, and steady, asserting and constitutionally 
establishing the rights of man, and be * not weary of well- 
doing ' for by wisdom, prudence and courage, ' in due time 
ye shall reap if ye faint not.' " 

When, therefore, Sheridan again brought forward his 
motion on April i8, 1792,^ he had some justification for 
warning Dundas that he was vigilantly watched in Eng- 
land, and would be faithfully reported in Scotland. ... If 
he thought that his petty shifts would pass upon the people 
of North Britain he was deceived in them, and did not know 
them so well as he thought he did. ... He ought to know 
them better than to think that they would for ever bear such 
insults." From the first Sheridan's conduct in forwarding 
the cause of the reformers had revealed his lack of business 
capacity, and on this occasion he displayed a singular want 
of tact. He did not content himself with rehearsing all 
the " flimsy evasions " whereby Dundas had hitherto 
postponed discussion. In direct opposition to the methods 
of the burgesses, he needlessly introduced a long panegyric 
^ Pari. Hist. xxix. 1 183 seq. 



on the French Revolution, and indirectly on the new associa- 
tion of the Friends of the People which was in process of 
formation. The lesson of the recent events in France, he 
declared, was to introduce a timely reform. Otherwise 
the increasing desire for redress of grievances might lead to 

anarchy and confusion." If they suffered that, it would 
be too late to talk about the probable mischief of reform.^ 
As the House was doubtless of the opinion of the honourable 
Member who declared that Sheridan had delivered " one of 
the most inflammatory, wicked, and dangerous speeches 
ever heard," Dundas and his nephew, the Lord Advocate, 
hardly required to invent any new arguments against the 
motion. Nothing came of the discussion save the admission 
by Robert Dundas that there was no legal authority in 
Scotland to control the accounts of the Town Councils. 

Five days later, Dundas was at issue with an even greater 
number of his fellow-countrymen by introducing his motion 
in favour of the gradual, as opposed to the immediate, 
abolition of the slave trade. On no question since the 
Catholic Relief Bill had Scotland appeared so unanimous as 
in the cause of Wilberforce and his fellow-labourers. From 
January to May, 1792, the advertisement columns of the 
newspapers teemed with resolutions in favour of the anti- 
slavery crusade. Town Councils, Trade Incorporations, 
Presbyteries and Sessions of the Kirk and of the Seceders, 
private societies of every kind, united in denouncing the 
slave trade as immoral and unchristian. Under the auspices 
of the parent Abolition Society in London, branches were 

^ " ^coutons M. Sheridan, le second orateur de I'opposition, parlant 
dans la seance du 18 avril, et proposant de reformer la representation 
parlementaire dans les burgs d'Ecosse. . . . On nous proposoit, comme 
fait M. Sheridan, une reforme moderee, et I'on nous a donne une revolu- 
tion atroce. . . . Burke ! O sage Burke. . . . C'est la premiere tete de 
I'hydre qui se montre." A. Dillon, Progres de la Revolution Frafiqaise en 
Angleterre^ ce 2^ avril^ ^79^» 


instituted in such centres as Edinburgh and Perth. A 
meeting held in the Circus of the former city, presided 
over by Henry Erskine, was attended by 3000 people, 
and led to a petition containing 10,885 signatures. ^ It 
was noted at the time that few if any of the landed 
interest passed resolutions against the traffic,^ and Dr. 
Somerville of Jedburgh, by publishing a sermon against it, 
gave great offence to some gentlemen in the country who 
imputed it to seditious principles. ^ In the higher circles 
of Edinburgh, where the influence of Dundas was more 
immediate, the agitation was said to be taken up only by 
those unfriendly to the Government. As Pitt had delivered 
one of his most eloquent orations in favour of abolition, such 
assertions might have been hard to justify, had not some of 
the petitioning societies in their resolutions made specific 
references to the rights of man.* 

" Seditious principles," however, were as yet confined in 
Scotland to individuals. In England not a few societies 
had been established to propagate Paine's teaching. Fore- 
most among them was that at Manchester, whose ostentatious 
vote of thanks to the author of the Rights of Man was duly 
published in the Scottish press. The spirit of the French 
Revolution had also infused new life into older associations 
such as the Society for Constitutional Information, which 
had been moribund since Pitt's abortive motions in favour 
of reform.^ In 1791, Thomas Hardy, a native of Falkirk, 

1 Ca/. Mer. Mar. 29, 1 792. Ibid. Feb. 27, 1792. ^ Own Life^ 263. 

* The Medical Society of Edinburgh, for example, adopted the follow- 
ing resolution : "All men are born free and equal in rights. The first 
object of government is to secure to all the right which all derive from 
nature to civil liberty. The object of political liberty is to prevent the 
abuse of power in government. Slavery, therefore, if political, must be 
contrary to the cause^ if civil, to the end of good government : and in both 
cases it is a violation of the first and most sacred rights of man." Cal. 
Mer. Mar. 10, 1792 ; Neil Douglas, American Slave Trade^ 193. 

° E. Smith, Story of the English Jacobins^ 14. 


founded the London Corresponding Society, and it came 
definitely before the public on April 2, 1792, with a series 
of resolutions advocating drastic measures of reform.^ Its 
low subscription of one penny a week was designed to attract 
a more popular class than adhered to the Constitutional 
Information Society, whose annual subscription was five 
guineas. In the same month Grey, Sheridan, the Earl of 
Lauderdale, and other Whigs of the younger school, founded 
the Society of the Friends of the People, whose members 
paid two and a half guineas a year. 2 It was the professed 
aim of this body to counteract the more radical tendencies 
of the others,^ and a week after its formal institution, Grey 
gave notice in Parliament of his intention to submit early 
next session a motion, the object of which was a reform 
in the representation of the people. The irregular debate 
which Pitt initiated revealed a schism in the Whig ranks. 
Fox, though he abstained from joining the association, sup- 
ported Grey ; but Windham, speaking for the older Whigs, 
avowed his intention to oppose the motion whenever it 
appeared." * 

A variety of motives, therefore, induced the Government 
to issue the proclamation against seditious writings on 
May 21. There is little doubt that Pitt was really alarmed 
at the progress of Paine's principles among mechanics 
and cottars." On the other hand, it afforded him an 
opportunity of strengthening his party by still further 
widening the breach in the Whig ranks. ^ Such at least 

1 Place Coll. Brit, Mus. Add. MSS. 27808, f. 4. 

'^Proceedings of the Society of the Friends of the People., Lond. 1793, 
April II, 1792. 

^ Ibid. Correspondence with Society for Constitutional Information, 
May 12, 1792. 

Pari. Hist. xxix. 1327. 
®This motive is unduly emphasised in W. T. Laprade's England and 
the French Revolution^ chap. iii. 


was the result of the debate on the loyal addresses 
voted by both Houses when the proclamation was pub- 
lished. ^ In Scotland it provoked a storm of disapproval 
in all but official circles. The Historical Register, quoting 
the Morning Chronicle, affirmed that the proclamation 
introduced the spy system by rendering the magistrates 
accusers instead of judges. If complaining of abuses was 
sedition, then Members of Parliament were guilty of the 
most horrible kind that ever existed. ^ Even the learned 
and genial editor of the Bee admitted into its columns a 
scathing criticism of the Government's action. Paine's 
book had received an excellent advertisement. " I know," 
added the editor in a footnote, " that in a small town in 
the north of Scotland before the proclamation, there was 
just one copy of Paine's pamphlet ; and the bookseller of 
the place declared three weeks ago that he had since then 
sold seven hundred and fifty copies of it. And a bookseller 
in Edinburgh told me that he had before the proclamation 
a good many copies of it that lay so long on his hand that 
he would gladly have sold them all at two shillings a copy. 
He has since then sold the whole of these and many more 
at three shillings and sixpence each." ^ 

While the people were anxiousl}^ inquiring for the 
book that was forbidden to be sold," corporations were 
zealously following the example of the Houses of Parliament 
in voting loyal addresses. In county meetings also the 
freeholders and the commissioners of supply were equally 
eager to manifest their principles. Each country gentleman 
made it his duty to see that his presence was duly noted in 
the public prints. Absence, on such an occasion, might 
be construed as a sign of revolutionary sympathies. The 

1 The proclamation had been submitted to the Duke of Portland, Life 
and Letters of Sir Gilbert Elliot^ ii. 26. 

2 May, 1792. ^ Bee^ vol. x. 85. 



loyalty of the addressers was doubtless stimulated by a 
succession of popular demonstrations against Dundas and 
the governing classes. In May " a very disagreeable state 
of tumult and disorder " in the town of Lanark lasted for 
eight days.i In Aberdeen, Perth, and Dundee, " and 
almost every village in the North of Scotland," the mob 
burned Dundas in effigy, ^ and as June 4, the King's birthday, 
drew near, inflammatory placards warned the magistrates 
that Edinburgh intended to do the same. The premature 
introduction of troops into the city led to a three days' 
riot.^ On the first night a " prodigious " crowd made a 
bonfire of a sentry box of the city guard, and stoned the 
soldiers as they returned to the castle. On the following 
evening a knot of workmen attempted to burn an " image 
of Dundas in George Square, and when they were dispersed, 
they came back in greater numbers to storm the Lord 
Advocate's town house. The reading of the Riot Act and 
the firing of the troops brought the disturbance to an end. 
*' With extraordinary persistency " the mob reappeared 
next night, and shivered to pieces the Lord Provost's 
windows in St. Andrew's Square before the military arrived. 
" An evil spirit seems to have reached us which I was in 
hopes John Bull would have kept to himself " ^ was Lord 
Provost Stirling's comment to Dundas. To the workings 
of the same evil spirit were assigned in the month of July 
the destruction of the newly erected toll bars in the neigh- 
bourhood of Duns, and the sheep riots in the county of Ross. 
Three troops of dragoons were required to quell the former 

1 Scot. Corr. vol. v. May 8, 1792. 

Hist. Register^ ]ur\t^ 1792. "At Peebles, the Right Hon. Secretary 
has twice undergone the fire ordeal, and passed through the flames 

^ A full account of the riot by the present writer will be found in the 
Scot. Hist. Rev. Oct. 1909 ; v. Scot. Corr. vol. v. June. 
* Scot. Corr. vol. v. June 12, 1792. 



disorder, 1 and it was not till the 42nd regiment had been 
requisitioned that the latter subsided. 2 

Officially all these signs of popular unrest were attributed 
to the writings of Tom Paine. The sheriff of Lanarkshire 
informed Henry Dundas that the real cause of the outrages 
was " an almost universal spirit of reform and opposition 
to the established government and legal administrators 
which has wonderfully diffused through the manufacturing 
towns of this county, and is openly patronised by many 
county gentlemen of fortune." ^ At a meeting held in St. 
Giles' after the Edinburgh riot, the Lord Advocate insinuated 
that there had been a premeditated design of the people to rise 
in revolt,* and the Town Council passed a motion denouncing 
the propagators of sedition. The resolutions adopted by 
the county gentlemen of Ross were to the same effect.^ 
Yet real grievances were known to exist, and were admitted 
in private. The magistrates of Lanark by proposing to 
enclose a small part of the burgh moor had exasperated the 
long-suffering townsfolk.^ In Berwickshire, it was alleged, 
not improbably, that the money raised by the toll dues 
had been expended in repairing the roads in the neighbour- 
hood of the gentry.^ The half-humorous, half-satirical 
placards posted up in the streets of Edinburgh had stig- 
matised Dundas's opposition to burgh reform and other 
progressive measures.^ Lord Adam Gordon, Commander- 
in-Chief in Scotland, while giving an official version of the 

1 Scot. Corr. Suppl. vol. Ix. July 8, 1792. 

'^Ibid. vol. V. Aug. 6, 1792. ^ Ibid. May 8, 1792. 

* Hist. Register ( U?tiversal Monthly Intelligencer). 
^ Scot. Corr. vol. v. July 31, 1792. 

^ " The ostensible cause of these outrages." Sheriff's letter, Scot. Corr. 
vol. v. May 8, 1792. 

7 Hist. Register {Universal Monthly Intel ligencer\ July, 1792. 

8 Scot. Hist. Rev. Oct. 1909, p. 23. 



sheep riots, sent in another marked " private/' ^ " If I 
were to hazard an opinion upon the matter," he wrote, " it 
is a decided one — that no disloyalty or spirit of rebellion or 
disHke to His Majesty's Person or Government is in the 
least concerned in these tumults. They solely originated 
in a (too well founded) apprehension that the landed pro- 
prietors in Ross-shire and some of the adjacent Highland 
counties were about to let their estates to sheep farmers, 
which meant all the former tenants would be ousted and 
turned adrift, and of course obliged to emigrate, unless 
they were elsewhere received, any probability of which they 
could not discover. And it is an undoubted fact that, in 
several instances within these last two or three years, such 
speculations have been realised, and the proprietors have 
by those means greatly increased their rent rolls, and 
diminished the number of the people on their respective 
estates. Of this last but too many proofs might be adduced, 
and if the strength of a nation depends on the number 
of its people, measures which tend directly and unavoid- 
ably to dispeople it ought not in reason and sound policy 
to be encouraged." Dundas had long been of Gordon's 
opinion. In 1775 the question of emigration had seriously 
occupied the attention of the Government, and the newly 
appointed Lord Advocate, in a long letter to Auckland, 
explained, partly in the same terms as Lord Adam Gordon 
did now, the root of the evil.^ The destruction of clanship, 
and the consequent decrease in the value of men, appeared 
to him to be deeper reasons of the distress, and he mooted 
the idea of restoring the " old proprietors " to their forfeited 
estates whereby the kind and beneficent sway of the land- 
lord-chieftain might in some degree be brought back. This 
patriotic policy Dundas had carried out in 1784, and in the 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. v. Aug. 19, 1792. 

"^Auckland Papers^ Brit Mus. Add. MSS, 34412, f. 352. 


same year the Highland Society was founded to interest 
the pubhc in the development of the Highlands and 
Islands. 1 But the evils which still continued were too 
great for its labours. When in August, 1792, a boatload 
of emigrants was visited by a Custom-House official, 
they gave as reasons for leaving for North Carolina three 
long-standing causes of emigration — poverty, oppression 
of landlords, and encouraging letters from friends already 
settled in America.^ 

Such a state of affairs was frequently denounced both 
in pamphlets and in the press. But for the present 
there was no appearance of a desire on the part of the 
Government to consider these and other grievances on 
their merits. Parliamentary reform of one kind or another 
was beginning to be put forward as the panacea for all the 
ills of the body politic,^ and Parliamentary reform would 
involve the end of the rule of Dundas and his supporters. 
The dread of mobs was genuine,* and it was not difficult 
for the " friends of administration," with exaggerated reports 
of French excesses fresh in their minds, to persuade them- 
selves and others that reform and revolution were identical. 
As Lord Provost Stirling, referring to the riot, put the 
matter to Dundas : " The favourers of reform and innova- 
tion . . . have, by their late intemperance and zeal, 
overshot the mark, and given an alarm to the sober and 
well-minded part of the community which they did not 

^ A Royal Charter setting forth the objects of the society was granted in 
1787. Home Office {Scotland) Entry Book Warrants^ vol. ii. May 21, 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. v. Aug. 17, 1792. 

^Historical Register {Universal Monthly Intelligencer), Aug. 1792, 
attributed the riots in Ross-shire to the fact that the people had "no 
one to represent them." 

* Justice Clerk Millar's letter, July 19, 1784, Scot. Hist. Rev. Oct. 
1909 ; Scot. Corr. vol. ii. 



intend. . . ^ When, therefore, associations of the Friends 
of the People were founded in Scotland, their constitutional 
agitation was studiously confounded with rioting, sedition, 
and revolution, and the cause of reform compromised ere 
it had well begun. 

1 Scof. Corr. vol. v. June 16, 1792. 



The first society of the Friends of the People in Scotland 
met in Edinburgh on July 26, 1792, ^ but it was not until 
two months later that the increasing number of such associa- 
tions began to alarm the Government. In the interval the 
principles of reform were being actively propagated by the 
distribution of Paine's Rights of Man, and by discussion 
in the press. As in France itself, the Revolution produced 
in Scotland a mushroom growth of journals and periodicals. 
In 1782, there were only eight Scottish newspapers ; but by 
1790 there were twenty-seven,^ and during the years 1791 
and 1792 additions were made to their number. The first 
to be established avowedly in consequence of the stir in the 
political world was the Edinburgh Herald, which appeared 
in March, 1790.^ In August of the same year the Glasgow 

1 CaL Mer. July 28, 1792. The Glasgow Society of the Friends of the 
People, usually reckoned the first in Scotland, was not founded until 
October, but there was a society for effecting Constitutional and Parlia- 
mentary Reform already in existence, for on July 23, it expressed its 
" warmest sentiments of veneration and regard " for the Friends of the 
People in London. Wyvill, Polit. Papers^ iii. No. xviii. 45. 

2 Statement by Lord John Russell in his motion for Pari. Reform, 
April 22, 1822. A7t7iiial Register^ 1822, p. 69, quoted by Alison, Hist 
of Europe^ 181 5-1832, ii. chap. x. par. 126, fn. 

^ " The politics of France, and of other parts of the Continent by which 
the example has been followed, give an importance to the public affairs 
of the present period beyond those of almost any other sera that can be 
remembered." Edin. Herald^ No. i, March 15, 1790. 


Courier was founded, " the apology for this offering " to the 
pubhc being, besides domestic occurrences, " the pohtics of 
France and of the other Continental Powers, whether con- 
sidered abstractedly or as affecting the politics of this 
country." ^ The Courier was not in favour of reform, but 
to such an extent had the older newspapers been affected 
by French ideas that in April, 1792, the Edinburgh Herald 
was described to the Lord Advocate as " the only newspaper 
in Scotland truly and sincerely affected to Government." ^ 
By the beginning of June the periodicals in Edinburgh alone 
numbered ten,^ and on June 20, 1792, the Political Review of 
Edinburgh Periodical Publications was started to give an 
account of these, from the anti-Ministerial point of view, 
beginning with June 4, " as a remarkable sera." * According 
to its trenchant criticism, the Edinburgh Advertiser was 
the least political." The Caledonian Mercury was the 
" most free-spirited " — though the proclamation against 
seditious writings was evidently beginning to affect its 
impartial discussion of affairs. The C our ant was " more 
attached to Ministers " than the Mercury. The Herald, 
however, was " the vehicle of Ministerial dirt . . . the 
subjects of its vengeance being the French Constitution, 
the National Assembly, and the Reform Society." An 
equally ardent supporter of the Government was to be found 

1 Advert, in Edi?t. Herald^ Aug. 8, 1791. 

2 Henry Mackenzie to Ld. Advocate, April 14, 1792, Edin. Univ. Laing 
MSS. No. 501. 

2 An excellent account of the Edinburgh press will be found in W. J. 
Couper's the Edin. Period. Press., 2 vols. Stirling, 1908. The present 
writer is also indebted to Mr. Couper for information regarding the 
Glasgow newspapers. 

*Copy in Brit. Mus. Few of the Scottish democratic newspapers of 
this period have been preserved. Owing to later political developments 
they became dangerous possessions. June 4 was the date of the King's 
Birthday Riot in Edinburgh. 


in Constitutional Letters. The career of the Historical Register'^ 
was even more symptomatic of the times. Originally in- 
tended to advocate reform, this review, on the issue of its 
tenth number, was published in two parts, the one having 
for sub-title the Edinburgh Monthly Intelligencer, the other 
the Universal Monthly Intelligencer. While the former repre- 
sented the views of the original paper, the latter was much 
more extreme. Thus it denounced war — the Commanders 
in the East Indies being designated " murderers — the 
slave trade, the extravagance at court, the notorious im- 
morality of the Duke of Clarence, ^ the evils of solitary con- 
finement, and the rapacity of landlords who were driving 
thousands of Highlanders abroad. For success in the cause 
of reform, it showed the necessity of unanimity among the 
reformers, and such an accession of numbers as would 
enable them to form something like a National Convention.^ 
Even more significant of the political atmosphere of the 
capital were the essays in the Bee, which was first published 
in 1791 under the editorship of Dr. Anderson, a well- 
known authority on the agriculture and fisheries of Scotland.* 
This magazine confined its attention, after the manner of 
Adam Smith, to the exposure of glaring defects in adminis- 
tration without committing itself to party politics. The 
oppression of the tacksmen in the Highlands, the harshness 
of the excise duties and of customs ofiicials, the injustice 
of the corn laws, and the necessity of a jury in civil cases 
were among the subjects of its shrewd and temperate criti- 
cism. In 1792, a series of articles appeared in its columns 
which aroused no little comment. The " Political Progress of 

1 There is a copy in the Signet Library, Edinburgh. 

2 Cf. Sir Gilbert Elliot : " If anything can make a democracy \n 
England it will be the Royal Family." Life and Letters^ ii. 13. 

^ Sept. 1792. Cf. Paine, a7ite^ ch. iii. p. 62. 

* V. James Anderson in Diet. Nat. Biog. 



Britain," which condemned the whole system of government 
since the Revolution of 1688, was considered by some of the 
subscribers as an attack on Dundas.^ An essay entitled 
" Hints respecting the Constitution," by one of the Friends of 
the People in London, was probably inserted as an antidote. ^ 
The writer, after showing the illogical position of those who 
based their faith on the inalienable rights of man, pointed 
out the strictly constitutional aims of his party. In August, 
even this series came to a close. The alarming incidents in 
France had raised doubts in the author's mind as to the 
propriety of adopting certain modes of conduct that did not 
appear liable to objection before. The writings of Paine 
and his associates had too rapid a circulation, and the 
essayist was now prepared for an inundation of writings of 
an opposite tendency. Under the influence of this appre- 
hended frenzy much mischief might be done, and he there- 
fore suspended his remarks. 

Yet at this very time the Friends of the People were 
making rapid progress in Edinburgh. On the last day of 
August, a certain Robert Watt wrote to Henry Dundas^ 
that he had been present at some of the committee meetings 
and had been astonished at the language used by the 
reformers, such as " government expenses must be re- 
trenched "; "Ministry must be displaced "; ''none belonging 
to the Treasury should have a seat in Parliament." " In 
short," he added, " France must be imitated." One of 
their number in a committee in a tavern had said : " It is 

1 Bee, viii. 171. 

Polit. Rev. of Edin. Per, Publications, No. 3 ; Bee, ix. June, 1792. 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. 5. State Trials, xxiii. 1323. Watt was not a member 
of the Friends of the People. " As I could not be prevailed on to sub- 
scribe their book of admission, notwithstanding their using several 
arguments to persuade me to it on three different occasions, they sent me 
for my information and conviction Paine's Rights of Man, Mackintosh's 
answer to Paine, and Flower's publication." 



a maxim of mine that a king should be sacrificed to the nation 
once in every hundred years/' They propose to accom- 

phsh their h designs/' he concluded, " by pretending 

moderation at first in their demands and proceedings, and 
by degrees artfully to insinuate their dangerous ideas into 
the minds of their adherents, and when they suppose them- 
selves sufficiently powerful, then to attack perforce the 
throne and the friends of the constitution. This they think 
they can do with more ease and safety than even the 
French/' Two hundred had attended the general meeting 
and discussed a plan of organisation. As they expected 
their numbers to increase, the society was to be divided into 
smaller ones for the more convenient dispatch of business. 
Three weeks later ^ he informed Dundas that the society 
numbered three hundred. They were in communication 
with the London Corresponding Society, whose seditious 
papers they were circulating, and they were even thinking 
of joining in a congratulatory address to the Jacobin Club 
of Paris. 2 He enclosed one of the papers. An Address to 
the Nation at Large, ^ which contained as an argument for 
reform the fact that the single county of Cornwall sent 
forty-four members to Parliament, one less than the total 
representation of Scotland. About the same time* Lord 
Provost Stirling forwarded to Dundas a broadsheet, large 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. v. Sept. 21, 1792. 

2 This was not carried out. " A letter was read from the Association of 
the Friends of the People in Edinburgh, cautiously declining joining in 
the address, but giving a very favourable account of the spirit of liberty 
in these parts." Journal of the London Corresp. Socy. Nov. 1792. Place 
Coll. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27Z12, f 24. Cf entry dated Jan. 1793 ' 
"A letter was read from the Friends of the People [in London] signify- 
ing their acceptance of our proffered correspondence, their regard 
and veneration of the original principles of our constitution, and a friendly 
admonition to abstain from intermixture of foreign correspondence and 
domestic reform." 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. v. Ibid. Sept. 22, 1792. 



impressions of which were being thrown off. The first part 
contained a reprint of the Declaration of the Rights of Man» 
The second consisted of an outHne of the origin of govern- 
ment, condemned impress warrants and Dundas's conduct 
in opposing burgh reform, and advocated equal representa- 
tion, just taxation, and hberty of conscience.^ This was the 
most direct appHcation of the Rights of Man to the pohtical 
condition of Scotland that had yet been made. The autho- 
rities were still further alarmed by the appearance of 
another organ of advanced opinion, the Edinburgh Gazetteer,'^ 
and by the circulation of medals inscribed with revolutionary 

Such " political madness," according to the Caledonian 
Mercury of September 30, 1792, was not limited to Edinburgh. 
" That keenness of political enquiry," it said, " which for a 
long time seemed to be confined to England, has now reached 
this northern clime and extended its influence with rapid 
strides, so that it now pervades the whole of Caledonia. 
Societies are everywhere formed and clubs instituted for 
the sole purpose of political debate." * Thus the Dundee 
Friends of the Constitution, founded on September 17, 1792,^ 

1 Printed in State Trials, xxiii. 27. 

2 Prospectus in Couper, op. cit. ii. 191 -9. There are numerous references 
to its influence in the Scot. Corr. As early as Nov. 29, 1792, Mrs. S. 

B , Montrose, one of Dundas's regular correspondents, wrote: "That 

newspaper, the Gazetteer, puts them [the reformers] in a flame. I believe 
it has done more hurt than anything else." 

^ State Trials, xxiii. 30. 

*Cf. Whitehall Evening Post, Nov. 22-4, the editor of which was a 
Scotsman, Dr. W. Thompson, formerly minister of Auchterarder. Scot. 
Corr. Dec. 4, 1792. "The spirit of association and remonstrance is 
stronger in Scotland, as vegetation is powerful in soil fresh and newly 
reduced from the forest." 

^ Cal. Mer. Oct. 4, 1792. The word "Constitution" was included in 
the designation of some of the societies as an answer to the insinuations 
of their opponents. 


was said to consist of fifty members. ^ By September 23, 
Perth was reported to have four societies with a total 
membership of a hundred, and during the same month, the 
newspapers pubhshed the resolutions of numerous societies 
in the eastern district. ^ The activity of the reformers was 
as keen in the west. In the Star Inn on October 3, the 
Glasgow Associated Friends of the Constitution and of the 
People was formed, with Lieut. -Colonel Dalrymple of Fordell 
as President, Thomas Muir, younger, of Huntershill, Advo- 
cate, as Vice-President, and George Crawford, " Writer," as 
Secretary.^ Under the stimulus of these leaders, similar 
associations sprang up in Paisley, Kilmarnock, Kirkintilloch, 
and other towns and villages in the neighbourhood.* 

The organisation of the Glasgow Society may be taken 
as typical of the others.^ Each member, besides paying a 
quarterly subscription of threepence, had to sign two resolu- 
tions to the effect that the society would co-operate with the 
Friends of the People in London in all proper measures to 
accomplish an equal representation of the people in Parlia- 
ment, and to obtain a shorter duration of Parliamentary 
delegation. As a safeguard against admitting avowed 
republicans, and as an answer to their enemies, members 
were further required to declare that they would be faithful 
to the British Constitution as consisting of a King, House 
of Lords, and House of Commons, and would discountenance 

^Watt to H. Dundas, Sept. 21, 1792, Scot. Corr. vol. v. 

2 Adverts, in Cal. Mer. Oct. to Dec. 

3 Cal. Mer. Oct. 13, 1792. The Glasgow Courier of Oct. 20 contains an 
account of the third meeting of the association. 400 were present, of 
whom 121 were new members. Several other societies were affiliated. 
Muir's speech recommending moderation and order is given in outline. 
Macleod, M.P. for Inverness, joined the society on October 27. 

^ Muir's propagandist tour may be traced in the evidence of the 
witnesses at his trial. 

^ Plan of the Internal Government of the SoJety of the Friends of the 
Constitution and of the People \Glasgo'w\. Scot. Corr. vol. v. 


and suppress all sedition, riots and disorder. ^ A Committee 
of Direction met weekly to manage the affairs of the society 
and enrol new members. As the numbers increased, 
branches were set up in each district which sent monthly 
reports to the central society and delegates to a convention 
of the local associations. Thus there was an essential 
difference between the Friends of the People in London and 
in Scotland. The high subscription of two guineas kept 
the former a select body of Members of Parliament, country 
gentlemen, and the professional classes. No branches were 
formed in England, though country members were admitted. 
The low subscription and the organisation of the Scottish 
associations were based on those of the London Corre- 
sponding Society, and the Scottish Friends of the People 
were drawn from a similar grade of society — weavers and 
shoemakers in the country districts, tradesmen and shop- 
keepers in the towns.^ 

Amid this growing excitement, Dundas, the Home 
Secretary, arrived in Edinburgh about the middle of October. 
The appearance of a new class of politicians was sufficient 
in itself to disturb his peace of mind, and his apprehensions 

^Some of the societies, in imitation of the Enghsh associations, 
pubHshed longer declarations, e.g. Paisley, State Trials^ xxiii. 122-3. 
The Montrose Friends of the People issued An Address to the People of 
Great Britain., which enumerated six advantages which would result 
from their activity. These included the spread of political information 
and the preservation of order — " such societies cannot be concealed." 
Cal. Mer. Nov. 3, 1792. 

^Cf. The Reformer s.^ Edin. 1793 : 

" The worthy members of these worthy meetings 
Are cobblers some, sonie brewers to their trade. 
Weavers are some, some finely thrive by beatings, 
And some by their smart feet do make their bread. 

Old toothless schoolmasters, and furious tanners. 
Tailors, hair-dressers, deep-read butchers too, 
All list with zeal under fair Reform's banners, 
And that they will be great men vow." 



were increased by the flood of confidential letters that was 
pouring in from all quarters of Scotland warning him of the 
dangerous spirit abroad in the land.^ Some of these Dundas 
forwarded to Nepean, an official of the Home Oflice, for the 
inspection of Pitt and Grenville. Writing on October 14, 
he says, " I am more and more satisfied that unless something 
effectual can be done to check the indiscriminate practice 
of associations, they will spread the fermentation of the 
country to such a height it will be impossible to restrain the 
effects of them." ^ letter from Glasgow which he en- 

closed gave point to his remarks. The success of the 
French Democrats," it ran, has had a most mischievous 
effect here. Did it go no further than give occasion for 
triumph to those who entertain the same sentiments here, 
there would be little harm, for they are very few in number, 
and but two or three of them possessed of any considerable 
influence or respectability. But it has led them to think of 
forming societies for reformation in which the lower classes 
of people are invited to enter, and however insignificant 
these leaders may be in themselves, when backed with the 
mob they become formidable." An anonymous correspon- 
dent confirmed these statements.^ Within these few 
months," he wrote, " I have visited several places in Scotland 
and corresponded with others, and find from every intelli- 
gence that all the lower ranks, particularly the operative 
manufacturers, with a considerable number of their em- 
ployers, are poisoned with an enthusiastic rage for ideal 
liberty that will not be crushed without coercive measures." 

^ As a rule the government of Scotland was carried on without much 
trouble. Thus one volume suffices for the Scottish correspondence 
preserved in the Record Office for the years 1789-91. Owing to the 
crisis in 1792, the correspondence of the months of November and 
December alone occupy one volume, and three are required for that of 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. v. ^ Ibid. vol. vi. Nov. 1792. 


With another communication to Nepean, dated from Melville 
Castle, November 24, 1792,^ Dundas sent several papers for 
further inspection and preservation. The first from Sir 
William Maxwell in Dumfriesshire struck him as a proof of 
the rapidity with which these " mad ideas " had made pro- 
gress. He had met this baronet at the Duke of Buccleuch's, 
at Langholm, on his way north, and Sir William had then 
assured him that there was not a symptom of unrest in all 
that countryside. Now he wrote that unknown emissaries of 
sedition were at work in his neighbourhood, and by infinite 
address, artifice, and falsehood, were operating on the 
credulity of the people, affirming that the King and his 
family were useless and burdensome and ought to be sent 
adrift, and that taxes only served to support them. Paine's 
pamphlet, or " the cream and substance of it," was in the 
hands of almost every countryman, and could be had for 
twopence. Medals with inscriptions expressive of liberty 
and equality had been forwarded in anonymous letters to 
several of the clergy, and were even in circulation among 
the commonalty. Dundas's third enclosure related to the 
disposition of the troops under Lord Adam Gordon. " Mr 
Pitt," he remarked, " will see the necessity of immediate 
consideration being given to what I wrote to him on the 
subject of military force requisite for this country. ... I 
am persuaded it will very soon become necessary to aid the 
military force, by arming, under proper authority, bodies 
of men of respect and who can be trusted." According 
to Watt, even the regular troops were being tampered 
with, four members of the Edinburgh Friends of the 
People having so inflamed the minds of the guard at 

the Register House that they exclaimed, " D the 

King ! " There were more reports from another spy regard- 
ing the progress of the Friends of the People in Edinburgh. 


They were being visited by Colonel Dalrymple and Muir 
from Glasgow, who, while emphasising the necessity of 
moderation, were urging the members to persevere until 
they succeeded. At a meeting of delegates of the societies 
in and around Edinburgh, three hundred had been present. 
They had been addressed by Dalrymple, Muir, Macleod, — 
Member of Parliament for Inverness, — Major Maitland, and 
Messrs. Millar and Morthland, advocates. Macleod had 
declared that his purse, his sword, and his influence were at 
their service, and that he would stand by them to the last 
drop of his blood. A general convention of all the societies 
in Scotland was to be held early in December. 

A more legitimate cause for apprehension was the continued 
unrest throughout the country which found vent in riots. 
Perth was justifying Lord Adam Gordon's description of it 
as a very dangerous place." On November 6, several 
hundreds of the lower class " burnt Dundas in effigy,^ and the 
sheriff reported that it was not uncommon for even boys 
at the west end to shout " liberty, equality, and no king ! " ^ 
Little more than a fortnight later, the entry of Dumouriez 
into Brussels was celebrated by the erection of a Tree of 
Liberty at the Cross. The bells were rung from eight in the 
morning till six at night, and the inhabitants were compelled 
to illuminate their windows.^ Some days before, Dundee had 
given an example of similar manifestations. On Friday, 
November i6, a few people assembled in the High Street, 
where they attempted to plant a fir tree as a Tree of Liberty, 

^ Cal. Mer. Nov. 12, 1792 : "The magistrates of Perth much to their 
honour did not take any violent measures. The Duke of Athole went 
among the mob, and being desired by some of them, his Grace, in a 
very prudent manner, honoured them and cried out, ' Liberty and 
Equality.'" The Execution of Dundas at Perth was hawked in the 
streets of Glasgow. Scot. Corr. vol. vi. Nov. 1792. 

^ David Smyth to H. Dundas, Nov. 24, 1792, ibid. 

3 Cat. Mer. Nov. 29. 



but some young gentlemen pulled it down. On the Monday 
following, a mob threatened to unload a cargo of meal 
which could not be landed because of the corn laws. Next 
day the rioters, having assembled to the number of some 
hundreds, paraded the streets shouting " Liberty and 
Equality," and carrying the effigies of the gentlemen who 
had pulled down their tree. A man with a flaming barrel 
on his head led the way. Proceeding to the Town Hall, the 
mob rang the bells. The provost, however, successfully 
intervened, and the crowd, after breaking a few windows, 
made their way back to the High Street, where a huge bonfire 
was lit. A Tree of Liberty, bearing the scroll " Liberty, 
Equality and no Sinecures," was decorated with apples and 
lit up with a lantern and candles.^ The tree remained till 
Wednesday night. On Friday another was set up in the 
market place and stood till Sunday, when the provost ordered 
its removal. On Monday the troops arrived and the dis- 
orders subsided. 2 In Aberdeen, the sailors, following the 
example of Leith and other British seaports, went on strike, 
and although " the tree of liberty business ended in nothing," 
they unrigged the vessels going to sea.^ The dispute was 
settled by arbitration, the provost apologising for such 
weakness by pleading that nothing else could be done.* 

During the eighteenth century rioting had been almost 
the only method of popular protest, but such tumults had 
never been associated as they now were with universal 
principles of reform and even of revolution. The same cries 
of " Liberty and Equality " were at that very moment 

^ Dr. John Moore thus describes the Tree of Liberty he found at Aire 
in France on Oct. 8, 1792 : " It was hung round with garlands of flowers, 
with emblems of freedom and various inscriptions." A Journal of a 
Residence in France^ Lond. 1793, ii. 7. 

^ Provost Riddoch to Ld. Adv. Dec. 8, 1792, Scot. Corr. vol. vi, 

^Ld. Adam Gordon to H. Dundas, Dec. 7, 1792, ibid. 

^ Ibid. Dec. 9, 1792. 



resounding all over France. There the Tree of Liberty had 
become the symbol of democracy. Clubs had spread re- 
publican ideas to its remotest corners, and in every town, 
riots had signalised the rise of the people. To all lovers of 
order, the lower classes in Scotland seemed to be rushing 
headlong down that path of innovation which in France had 
led to revolution and finally to the massacres of September. 
It was in vain, therefore, that the Friends of the People 
strove to distinguish themselves from those wilder spirits 
who inevitably accompany all popular movements. In 
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Perth, the societies 
published resolutions in which they declared that all who 
took part in such disorders would be expelled from their 
membership. It was currently believed that privately the 
leaders were republicans, only biding their time to reveal 
their true sentiments. ^ Thus " one Palmer, a disciple of 
Priestley's," was held responsible for " the promotion of 
levelling doctrines " in Dundee,^ and ultimately for the riot 
itself.^ In other quarters it was supposed to be due to 
revolutionaries from the surrounding districts of Forfarshire, 
whose correspondent was Thomas Christie, " an associate 
of Condorcet, Horne Tooke, and Thomas Payne." Even 
when the reformers gave unmistakable proofs of their 
repudiation of such proceedings, they were still held respon- 
sible for them.^ It was at their meetings that " those with 

^ " Notwithstanding their public professions respecting the Constitution, 
I am well informed that it is easy to discover from the conversation of the 
leading men in the Society that they think a republic a much preferable 
form of Government." Sheriff of Perth to H. Dundas, Nov. 24, 1792, 
Scot. Corr. vol. vi. 

2 Letter of R. Graham, Nov. 22, 1792, ibid. ^ Ibid. Nov. 25, 1792. 

4 Sheriff Smyth reported to Dundas that during the riots in Perth 
" even the most violent reformers had concurred as readily as the other 
inhabitants" in watching the prison, etc., day and night. Scot. Corr. 
vol. vi. Dec. 3, 1792. At the beginning of December the Edin. Friends 
of the People offered their assistance to preserve order, but the Provost 


nothing at stake " had picked up their loose notions of 
equahty and hberty, for among the lowest classes it was 
commonly understood that these involved an equal distribu- 
tion of property and exemption from all taxation. ^ Further, 
many who had not joined the societies were known to be in 
sympathy with their aims, and to be unwilling to repress 
the activity of the reformers or " the violence of their friends 
the mob." ^ The Government, by its resistance to all 
reform, was now reaping the fruit of such a policy in the loss 
of the moral support of the growing class of shopkeepers 
and well-to-do artisans. 

The lower stratum of society, incapable of appreciating 
the issues at stake, could not fail to realise the harshness of 
many of the prevailing customs and laws. The lack of a 
jury in civil cases, economic changes in the Highlands, the 
stern repression of combinations or strikes, and above all 

replied that he did not know any "legally constituted society under 
that designation." Cal. Mer. Dec. 8, 1792. 

^ "An opinion got amongst the lowest class that a division of property 
should also take place, and that they would be equally free and equally 
rich." Jas. Mitchell, Kirriemuir, Nov. 29, 1792, Scot. Corr. vol. vi. " Scots 
peasants understand nothing of parliamentary reform, equal representation, 
and other grievances of which the discontented in a higher rank of life 
complain, while they may be tempted to unite to try their strength and 
risk their necks in the hopes of bringing about a division of the landed 
property, and of getting ten acres each, which, they have been told, will 
fall to the share of each individual." Sir W. Maxwell to Duke of 
Buccleuch, Nov. 19, 1792, ibid. The Convention of the Friends of the 
People, as well as the individual societies, repudiated such misrepre- 
sentations of their views ; yet in 1794 it was believed that the Friends of 
the People in Dunfermline "had the whole of Pittencrieff estate mapped 
off and allotted amongst its members." E. Henderson, Annals of Dun- 
fermline^ Glasgow, 1879, p. 351. 

2 " Many of the inhabitants [of Perth] though they censure the Friends 
of the People, and think it an improper season, do yet think a reform bill 
both in Parliament and the Burghs necessary ; and I apprehend that 
neither they, nor the other inhabitants who wish for no alteration or 
change, would be very active in their endeavours to suppress the violence 
of the society, or their friends the mob, though that should become neces- 
sary." Sherifif Smyth to H. Dundas, Nov. 24, 1792, Scot. Corr. vol. vi. 


the evils of excise administration, more especially in connec- 
tion with the recent corn laws, created a spirit of antagonism 
to all constituted authorities. Thus in Dundee the real 
cause of the riot was to be found in the practical working 
of the corn laws. George Dempster, Member of Parliament 
for Forfar, though hostile to the reformers, thought that 
every real grievance should be inquired into. " There is a 
very absurd law, passed last session," he wrote, referring 
to the disturbances in Dundee, " restraining the free 
commerce in corn between the different parts of this island 
when prices are at a certain height in London. . . . One 
of the causes of discontent at Dundee was the impossibility 
of landing for sale a cargo of oatmeal from Berwick. It was 
at last landed by a Dispensation from the Board of Customs 
at Edinburgh. There never was so odd a law." ^ Balfour 
of Pilrig, writing in the same strain, described the corn 
laws as " the only measure of which the common people 
justly complain of their interests being sacrificed to the 
wealthy landholder." ^ Xhis seems to have been recognised 
even in Government circles. The official comment on a 
precis of this letter, drawn up probably for Dundas or Pitt, 
was to this effect : It is to be observed on this subject 
that more than one Jacobin publication has already taken 
notice of the Corn Laws. The Bounty has been called ' a 
premium for starving the poor, etc., etc' This, it must be 
expected, will be urged with more violence the more strongly 
the landed interest attach themselves to Government. The 
suppression of the Bounty deserves consideration as an 
object of Revenue. Would country gentlemen dare to 
oppose it ? " ^ There could only be one answer to this 
question. Dundas knew full well the basis of his power. 
Yet always, within certain limits, attentive to the interests 

1 Scot. Corr. vol. vi. Dec. i, 1792. Ibid. Nov. 28, 1792. 

^ Ibid. Supp. vol. Ixi. 



of his country, he sent a circular to all the sheriffs of 
Scotland asking particulars as to the threatened scarcity 
of corn and the high price of fuel. Though the corn laws 
remained unchanged, it was ultimately considered safe to 
repeal the coal duty, and effusive votes of thanks from 
corporate bodies throughout the land welcomed this popular 

Meanwhile the crisis in foreign affairs had compelled 
Dundas to return to London. Since August lo, the French, 
under the growing influence of the Jacobins, had been 
assuming a menacing attitude. On November i6, the Con- 
vention issued a decree throwing open the navigation of 
the Scheldt to all nations, and on the 19th, a decree of 
fraternity, offering assistance to all peoples who were striving 
for liberty. Both of these acts were a direct challenge to 
the British Government. By the treaty of 1788 Britain had 
guaranteed the independence of the Dutch Netherlands now 
threatened by the first decree, and the Convention by its 
enthusiastic reception of deputations and addresses from 
democratic societies in England, emphasised the significance 
of the second.^ Under these circumstances the Government 
determined to call out a portion of the English militia. ^ 
" I believe myself that the chief danger at home is over 
for the present," wrote Pitt to Dundas, " but I am sure that 
there is still mischief enough afloat not to relax any of our 

^ No Scottish society sent greetings to the Convention, though a group 
of English, Scottish and Irish, resident in Paris, appeared at the bar with 
a congratulatory address on Nov. 28, 1792. Adresse des Anglois, des 
Ecossois, et des Irlandois residans a Paris a la Convention Nationale. 
Imprimi par ordre de la Convention Nationale ; v. also Collection of 
Addresses transmitted by certain English Clubs to the National Convention 
of France^ Lond. 2nd edn. 1793. 

2 Owing to the small number of troops in Scotland, Dundas was 
strongly in favour of this step. Lord Adam Gordon wrote to him on 
Nov. 29, "You must give us more troops and embody the English 


preparations, and things abroad still wear such an aspect 
that nothing but our being ready for war can preserve 
peace." ^ In view of the anticipated criticism on the part 
of the Opposition, he advised the Home Secretary to be 
ready with a full account of the Dundee riot, which was 
to be the specific ground for alleging the existence of " in- 
surrection or rebellion " required by the Militia Act. Dundas 
was therefore prepared when it fell to him, in the absence 
of Pitt, to defend in Parliament the action of the Cabinet. 
After referring to the disorders in Dundee and elsewhere, 
and the alarm among manufacturers, country gentry, and 
magistrates, which he had witnessed during his six weeks' 
stay in Scotland, he justified the calling out of the militia 
as being necessary to restore confidence in the country. ^ 
A majority of two hundred and forty for the address cor- 
roborated Pitt's forecast that there would be little difficulty 
in securing public approval for the measure. 

In Scotland, as in England, such approval was endorsed 
by the loyal addresses voted by corporate bodies of every 
kind, and judging from their tenor, Dundas had not ex- 
aggerated the dread of the classes with whom he had come 
in contact. These addresses, indeed, formed but one of the 
many schemes Dundas had set on foot during his recent 
sojourn in Scotland for concentrating public opinion on the 
side of the Government ; and such was the confidence he 
inspired in his less capable officials, that it was with difficulty 

^ Stanhope, Life of Pitt ^ ii. 177. 

2 Gilbert Elliot, who had joined the Duke of Portland's party in sup- 
porting Pitt, wrote : " The Scotch insurrections consist of the planting of 
the Tree of Liberty at Perth, and the Dundee mob, and some others of less 
note. This is certainly ridiculous to those who live in Scotland and know 
the truth. The conduct of ministry imposes on those who wish to stand 
by Government the heavy task of defending, or at least approving of, an 
unconstitutional Act relating to the military, the subject on which it is 
easier to raise jealousy than any other." Life a7td Letters of Sir G. Elliot^ 
ii. 80. 



he had been allowed to return. ^ He left behind him as an 
adviser of the Lord Advocate, William Pulteney, Member of 
Parliament for Bath, and he proved of invaluable assistance. ^ 
On behalf of Dundas he wrote to influential persons suspected 
of revolutionary sympathies, urging them to declare them- 
selves for law and order. Thus to George Dempster of 
Dunnichen he sent Adams's Answer to Payne and Dr. Hill's 
Sermon, and received Dempster's assurances of support.^ 
Dundas was especially anxious lest the dissenters in Scotland 
should take the opportunity of manifesting their dislike of 
the established order of Church government, but Pulteney 
was soon able to assure him that they were steadfast 
upholders of authority.^ His chief work was to assist in 
the organisation of an anti-reform society on the lines of 
the Association against Levellers and Republicans founded 
in London on November 28 by John Reeves. On December 
7, a meeting of the " gentry of the city and county of 
Edinburgh " was held to consider the state of the country. 
A series of resolutions was passed declaring that " the 
subscribers would stand by the constitution with their lives 
and fortunes," ^ and would use " their utmost endeavours 
to counteract all seditious attempts, and in particular, all 

1 " If I was to give way to the importunity and anxiety of those who 
wish to retain my assistance here, I would never get away. So many 
recent things have occurred, I may perhaps stay a day or two more than 
I mentioned in my last to Mr. Pitt, but beyond Monday the 3rd or 
Tuesday the 4th December, I have told them all, no consideration shall 
detain me here, and they must make up their minds to act upon their own 
judgment and discretion. It is one great point that with respect to spirit 
they are all up to anything." H. Dundas to Nepean, Nov. 24, 1792, 
Scot. Corr. vol. vi. 

2 "Let us keep Pulteney here as long as possible." R. to H. Dundas, 
Dec. 15, 1792, ibid. 

^Pulteney to H. Dundas, Dec. 4, 1792, ibid. 

^ Rev. J. Peddie to Pulteney, Dec. 26, 1792, ibid. 

^ Hence they were popularly known as " Lives-and-Fortune Men." 


associations for the publication or dispersion of seditious 
and inflammatory writings, or tending to excite disorders 
and tumults within this part of the kingdom." It was 
further determined to circulate pamphlets in defence of the 
Constitution. The resolutions were left for signature at 
the Goldsmiths' Hall, and a committee was appointed to 
carry out the objects of the association. ^ Soon two hundred 
names were secured, and the Lord Advocate reported that 
the work was proceeding with vigour. ^ Pulteney wrote 
that there was much general zeal, though shyness, about 
standing forth. He had attended the committee, but 
at his own request he had " not been named a member." 
It would be necessary to moderate their zeal and prevail 
with them to act coolly, but soon things would get into a 
regular system.^ 

Two parties were now competing for support in the 
capital — the Friends of the People, and the Goldsmiths' 
Hall Association as it was beginning to be called. Outside 
both was the small band of Whigs with whom the burgh 
reformers were identified. Strenuous efforts were made by 
the Friends of the People to win over their acknowledged 
leaders, Henry Erskine and Archibald Fletcher. But the 
former refused to imitate the example of his two brothers, 
the Earl of Buchan and Thomas Erskine, by joining the 
London branch so that there might be " tria juncta in uno " 
in a good cause. In a long letter to Sir Gilbert Elliot he 
explained the reasons for his conduct. Though he rejoiced 
in the downfall of despotism in France, yet he thought it had 
excited in the minds of many " ideas on the subject of 
government highly hostile to the constitution." Two evils, 

^ Cockburn, Exatn. of Trials for Sedition in Scot. i. 152. 
2 R. to H. Dundas, Dec. 12, Scot. Corr. vol. vi. The number of names 
exceeded 1000, Cat. Mer. Dec. 13. 

2 Pulteney to H. Dundas, Dec. 12, 1792, Scot. Corr. vol. vi. 


he predicted, would result from the propaganda of the 
societies. A flame of reform would arise which the associa- 
tions would be unable to extinguish. The lower classes 
would be alienated by frustrated hopes, and so the real 
leaders would lose authority at a later date when reform was 
practicable. He was determined, therefore, to use such 
influence as he possessed in moderating the violent spirit 
of innovation which was stirring even Scotland, and in pre- 
venting his friends, who favoured reform, from taking part 
in the existing agitation. ^ In this endeavour Erskine was 
successful, and even Fletcher, who at considerable risk 
continued for many years to celebrate the anniversary of 
the French Revolution, refused to listen to Muir's solicita- 
tions. " I remember," his wife records in her Autobio- 
graphy, " Mr. Muir's calling on my husband one evening in 
Hill Street, and I heard them at high words in an adjoining 
room. When his visitor went away, Mr. Fletcher told me 
that Muir quitted him much dissatisfied because he could 
not persuade him to join the Society. Mr. Fletcher added : 
' I believe him to be an honest enthusiast, but he is an ill- 
judging man. These violent reformers will create such an 
alarm in the country as must strengthen the Government. 
The country is not prepared to second their views of annual 
parliaments and universal suffrage.' " ^ 

In the midst of such political tension the first General 
Convention of the Delegates from the Societies of the Friends 
of the People throughout Scotland met in Lawrie's Rooms, 
James's Court, Edinburgh, on December 11 and the two 
following days.^ The delegates, some hundred and sixty in 
number, represented eighty societies of thirty-five towns and 
villages situated for the most part in the manufacturing 

^ Fergusson, The Hon. Henry Erskine^ 341-4- 
2 Autobiography of Mrs. Fletcher^ 65. 
^ For the minuteSj v. Appendix A. 


district bounded on the north by Dundee, on the west by 
Glasgow, and on the east by Edinburgh. Some of the 
associations lying both within and outside this area did not 
send delegates, probably owing to the distance from the 
capital and lack of funds, ^ so that the Edinburgh societies 
accounted for more than half the assembly. The principal 
leaders were Lieut. -Colonel Dalrymple of Fordell, Lord Daer, 
Thomas Muir, and a few of his fellow advocates, such as 
Millar, Morthland, and Forsyth. Dalrymple was well known 
as the President of the Glasgow Society. ^ Lord Daer, the 
eldest son of the Earl of Selkirk, had been in Paris at the 
commencement of the French Revolution, and was an ardent 
reformer : he was a member of the London Friends of the 
People, the London Corresponding Society,^ and a delegate 
to another convention then assembled in Edinburgh to 
discuss measures for abolishing the anomalies of county 
representation .4 Muir was the son of a Glasgow merchant, 
who had a small property at Huntershill near Glasgow.^ 

^ E.g. Wigtown. Cal. Mer, Dec. 8 ; Kincardine Friends of Liberty and 
of the People, Edin. Gazetteer., Dec. 25, 1792. 

2 On Dec. 8, the Glasgow Cotirz'er reported that Dalrymple and Macleod 
had received intimation that His Majesty had no further occasion for 
their services. Lord Sempill, a Scottish peer, was also cashiered about 
this time. He had signed the address of the Constitutional Information 
Society to the French Convention, and had also taken some part in the 
Scottish burgh reform movement. V. A Short Address to the Public on 
the Practice of Cashiering Military Officers ... by Hugh, Lord Sempill, 
Lond. 1793. Macleod did not attend the Convention, Parliament being 
in session. Cf. his speech in the House of Commons on Dec. 17, where 
he defended his action in joining the Glasgow Society. 

^Thos. Hardy, the secretary, in forwarding "his new ticket at id. a 
week," July 14, 1792, hopes that he will inform him of the progress of 
liberty in Scotland. Place Coll. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 2781 1 f. 15. 

4 Cal. Mer. Dec. 6, 1792. " Several of his contemporaries speak of his 
abilities in very high terms, and he might not improbably have played a 
considerable part in the politics of the period." Stanhope, Life of Pitt ^ 
ii. 215. He died at the age of 26. Accoimt of the Proceedings of the 
British Convention^ Lond. n.d. 2, fn. 

°P. Mackenzie, Life of Thomas Muir^ Glasgow, iS^i^ passim. 



He had been a student of Professor Millar's, but had been 
forced to retire from Glasgow University for writing political 
squibs against some of the professors. After spending two 
years at Edinburgh University, he became an advocate in 
1787. Although of no great ability, he was distinguished 
by his enthusiastic temperament and a talent for public 
speaking. He was popular among his colleagues at the Bar, 
who nicknamed him the " Chancellor," owing to a story 
that his mother had dreamt that he would some day become 
Lord High Chancellor of England.^ In July, 1792, he had 
defended some of the King's Birthday rioters. ^ By that 
time he was probably engaged in his work of establishing 
the first society of the Friends of the People, for although 
his name does not appear among the officials of the 
Edinburgh Association in July, he himself claimed that 
the first proposal came from him.^ After helping to 
organise the movement in the west, he returned to Edin- 
burgh, and was elected Vice-President of the Associated 
Societies in and around Edinburgh. 

The first day of the Convention was devoted to formal 
business. The election of a chairman called forth some 
curious remarks from Lord Daer, Addressing the members 
by the " famihar epithet of ' Fellow-citizens,' " he argued 
that, according to the principles of liberty and equality, 
there was no necessity for such permanent officials as 
President, Vice-President, etc. As the Ministry " had its 
eye on them," the responsibility should be divided. After 
some discussion. Colonel Dalrymple was elected chairman for 

1 G. W. T. Omond, The Lord Advocates of Scotland, ii. 187. 

2 "Mr. Muir stated and admitted the dangerous tendency of mobs, and 
observed that when mobs were set on foot in order to obtain redress of 
grievances, or from any other cause, they defeated the cause they meant 
to serve." Cal. Mer. July 19, 1792. One of the accused was sentenced to 
fourteen years' transportation to Botany Bay. 

^Appendix A, p. 239. 


the day, though he objected that, being a mihtary man, 
he might be accused of raising a rebellion. William Skirving, 
the secretary of the Edinburgh societies, was appointed to 
the same office for the Convention. Next day revealed a 
contentious spirit among the delegates. Lord Daer's motion 
regarding procedure, though based on the methods of the 
French Assembly, was stoutly opposed by Muir, but was ulti- 
mately adopted by the Convention. Muir, however, caused a 
more serious division of opinion when he insisted on reading 
an address from the Society of United Irishmen at Dublin. 
Daer, Dalrymple, and the more moderate section were opposed 
to this, on the ground that it " contained treason or at least 
misprision of treason." Muir, however, having been allowed 
to read it, moved that an answer should be sent. This 
provoked a lively debate, one delegate selecting as objection- 
able a phrase in which Scotland was described as " rising 
to distinction not by a calm, contented, secret wish for a 
reform in Parliament, but by openly, actively, and urgently 
willing it, with the unity and energy of an embodied nation." ^ 
In spite of Muir's defence of the address, it was decided by a 
majority that it should not lie on the table. At the evening 
sitting the matter was brought up again, when Muir agreed 
to withdraw the document and return it to the chairman 
of the United Irishmen, pointing out the passages objected 
to that they might be " smoothed." The subject was again 
raised on the following day, but finally dropped. The chief 
work of the Convention was the drawing up of a series of 
resolutions on Parliamentary reform. Despite the efforts 
of a few extremists, these were all passed in such a moderate 
form as to win the approval, according to one delegate, of 
Henry Erskine himself. The Convention declared that the 
Friends of the People would defend the Constitution, that 
they would assist the civil magistrates in suppressing riots, 
*This passage appeared in Muir's indictment, State Trials^ xxiii. 124. 


and that their true object was to agitate for an equal repre- 
sentation of the people and a frequent exercise of their right 
of election, by the proper and legal method of petitioning 
Parliament. Thus, though Muir and others wished to 
" restore " the Constitution to its supposed purity in King 
Alfred's days, when every freeman had a vote and Parlia- 
ments were annual,^ the Convention decided to keep to 
general terms, and to be guided by the petition which 
Grey was known to be preparing on behalf of the parent 
society in London. Two other subjects claimed the 
attention of the delegates that day. One was their atti- 
tude to the burgh reformers, whom they decided to welcome 
as individuals to their societies. The other had a more 
important bearing on the fate of the reform movement 
generally. Mr. Millar drew the attention of the Convention 
to the Goldsmiths' Hall resolutions, evidently intended to 
throw discredit on their societies, and proposed that they 
should go in small parties and sign the resolution, " which 
contained nothing that any friends of reform could dis- 
approve of." This being agreed to, one group signed the 
declaration ; but each member added after his name, " dele- 
gate of the Society of the Friends of the People,'' lest it 
should be understood that he had abandoned his principles. 
A subsequent deputation was refused the privilege, and 
ultimately the Goldsmiths' Hall Committee ordered all such 
names to be deleted, Muir's among the rest.^ 

After providing for its general expenses by appointing 
a Committee of Finance to receive the contributions from 

^This had been a tenet of advanced reformers since the Duke of 
Richmond's Reform Scheme in 1780. "To the zealous advocates for 
annual parliaments, and the perfect equality of representation, they are 
most ready to concede that those propositions may be supported by the 
ancient practice of the constitution and the genuine theory of civil liberty." 
Wyvill, Polit. Papers, i. 316. 

^Cockburn, Exam, of Trials for Sedition^ i, 152-3. 



all the societies in Scotland, the Convention was adjourned 
till April. A dramatic incident marked its close. On the 
motion of a Mr. Fowler that " all should take the French 
oath to live free or die," the members rose as one man, and 
holding up their right hands, took the oath " amid reiterated 
plaudits." Thereupon Dalrymple pointed out that their 
indiscretion might be magnified into sedition, and Fowler, 
acknowledging the justice of the Colonel's remarks, explained 
" that he meant no more by the motion than simply to 
impress upon the minds of all present, uniformity and 
steadiness in the cause of freedom and virtue." On 
Dalrymple's suggestion, the motion was not recorded in the 
official minutes, though it duly appeared in the spy's account 
forwarded to Dundas. Taken in conjunction with another 
proposal made on the same day, that the Friends of the 
People should be armed with a " Brown Janet " to aid the 
magistrates in suppressing disorder, it was considered by 
the Administration sufficient evidence of the more revolu- 
tionary schemes which the delegates hid under the mask 
of reform. 1 

Thus ended one of the most noteworthy assemblies in 
the history of modern Scotland. Insignificant in point of 
numbers, and even in its personnel, it gave voice for the first 
time to the newly awakened aspirations of democracy. 
Though its deliberations had no immediate effect, they 
were justified at the time by at least one sympathiser on 
Montesquieu's principle : "II est tres souvent indifferent 
que les particuliers raisonnent bien ou mal ; il sufiit qu'ils 

^ The following comment was made by some Government official on the 
publication of the official minutes : "The minutes of the Convention are 
published. No notice is taken of the oath to live free or die, or of the 
proposition for arming themselves. These circumstances should surely 
be made public." Scot. Corr. Supp. vol. Ixi. It was also noted that the 
petition circulated by the Friends of the People was "enormously 
insolent." " Relying on the virtue of some and the prudence of many 
individuals, we request . . . ." 


raisonnent." ^ That shopkeepers and artisans should have 
begun to reason at all on political matters, was sufficient 
to alarm those at the head of affairs, and taking advantage 
of the strength which accrued to them through the growing 
panic among the middle and upper classes, they were now 
prepared to strike a crushing blow at the reformers. 

^ R. Fergusson, jr., of Craigdarroch, in The Proposed Reform of the 
Counties in Scotland^ Edin. 1792. The author was not a member of the 



In January, 1793, the law officers of the Crown in Scotland 
began a series of trials for sedition which were to continue, 
more or less intermittently, until the cause of reform 
triumphed. 1 James Tytler was the first to be cited. He 
was charged with having published two seditious libels, 
one of which concluded, " If the King hear you not, 
keep your money in your pockets, and frame your laws, 
and the minority must submit to the majority." ^ Tytler 
failed to appear and was outlawed. On the following 
day, three printers were accused of having entered a canteen 
in the Castle of Edinburgh, and having drunk to " George 
III. and last and damnation to all crowned heads,'' while 
holding out to the soldiers that they would get increased 
pay by joining the Friends of the People.^ Though they 
called witnesses to prove that their visit was a casual one, 
and that they did not belong to any of the reforming societies, 
they were condemned to nine months' imprisonment, and 

^ Cockburn, in his Exam, of the Trials for Sedition in Scotland^ 
discusses twenty-five cases between 1793 and 1849. Twenty-two occurred 
before 1820. 

^ State Trials^ xxiii. 1-6 ; Cockburn, op. cit. i. 95. 

^ State Trials^ xxiii. 7-26; Cockburn, i. 95-108. A common toast in 
certain circles. Cf. Burns : " Here's the last verse of the last chapter 
of the last Book of Kings." Life by Chambers, ed. W. Wallace, iii. 379 ; 
V. also Glasgow Courier^ Jan. 22, 1793. 


ordered to find security for good behaviour for three years. 
Considering the temper of the times, this was a lenient 
sentence, though one of the judges, without dissent from the 
others on the bench, pronounced transportation to Botany 
Bay to be a possible, though hitherto unknown, punishment 
for sedition. 1 Since the day on which Fox had praised the 
French for proving that a man by becoming a soldier did 
not cease to be a citizen,^ the authorities had been peculiarly 
apprehensive regarding the loyalty of the troops. At one 
time it would be reported that Paine's works were being 
freely circulated among them ; ^ at another, that some of 
Colonel Macleod's regiment had set out for Scotland to pro- 
pagate his opinions among their comrades.* Military officers 
pointed out the dangerous principles their men might 
pick up while billeted in private houses,^ and, as a pre- 
caution, barracks were eventually erected for the first 
time in Glasgow and some other Scottish towns, whereby 
another grievance was added to the popular list.^ Among 
the next to be prosecuted were the publishers of the Declara- 
Hon of the Rights of Man. They had also issued the medals 
which had excited the alarm of the Lord Provost of Edinburgh 
in September."^ The case, however, was not proceeded with. 
The Political Progress of Britainwhich had originally appeared 

^ Cockburn, op. cit. i. 106-7. 
^Lecky, Hist, of England., v. 455. 

^ " A Mr. Thomson, a bookseller near Edinburgh, gave to one of our 
men in passing his shop to-day, six pamphlets saying that they were for 
the amusement of his comrades." They turned out to be abridgments 
of Paine's works. Letter of Sir Chas. Ross, Edinburgh Castle, Nov. 23, 
1792, Scot. Corr. vol. vi. 

Information transmitted to the Ld. Adv. Dec. 16, 1792, ibid. 
•''Ld. Dundonald to Ld. Adv. Dec. 16, 1792, ibid. 

^ A word in Season to the Bakers., Brewers., Butchers., Spirit Dealers., 
etc., in Glasgow respecting a Dangerous and Deep-laid Scheme of 
Garrisoning this City by Barracks. Handbill, Nov. 26, 1792, ibid. 

State Trials^ xxiii. 25-34 ; Cockburn, op. cit. i. 109- 114. 




in serial form in the Bee led to another trial. ^ Great difficulty 
was experienced in tracing the author. A man Callender was 
suspected, but, on being examined by the sheriff, he denied 
all connection with it, and tried to incriminate his benefactor. 
Lord Gardenstone, unique among the judges of the Court of 
Session as a reformer. It was not until Lord Gardenstone 
himself had made an official declaration, and Dr. Anderson, 
the editor of the Bee, had been threatened with imprisonment, 
that Callender's treachery was revealed. ^ Callender there- 
upon fied,^ and the bookseller and printer were sentenced to 
three and six months' imprisonment respectively. 

The mildness of these proceedings was doubtless due to 
the comparative insignificance of the offendeis, but one had 
been arrested who was not to escape so easily. This was 
Thomas Muir, regarded by the Ministerialist party as the 
organiser of the whole agitation. By his conduct in defending 
the Address of the United Irishmen, he had played into the 
hands of the Lord Advocate. On December 15, the latter, 
in forwarding the minutes of the Convention to Henry 
Dundas, wrote that he was endeavouring to get hold of the 
paper characterised therein as treasonable.* " In that event, 
the Solicitor and I are resolved to lay him by the heels on 
a charge of High Treason.'' ^ An accident provided further 

^ State Trials, xxiii. 79-114 ; Cockburn, op. cit. i. 128-143. 

2 Precognitions, Dec. 29, 1792 — Jan. 3, 1793, Scot. Cor. vol. vii. 

^ He reached America, where he published an enlarged edition of his 
pamphlet. (Phila. 1795, Brit. Mus.) When Jefferson was shown a copy 
of the original, he is said to have declared that " it contained the most 
astonishing concentration of abuses that he had ever heard of in any 
government." Cobbett, then a loyalist pamphleteer, in his Bone to gnaw 
for Dejuocrats, affirmed that Jefferson must have said ' abuse '! Callender 
has been regarded as the founder of Yellow Journalism in America. For 
his career v. Cyclopcedia of American Biography. 

* The minutes were taken in shorthand by the Government spy. Letter 
of Sheriff Pringle, Dec. 17, 1792, Scot. Corr. vol. vi. 

'-'Ibid. Dec. 15, 1792. 


materials for the public prosecutor. A certain Mr. Muir 
received a letter intended for Thomas Muir. Having heard 
something of its contents, the sheriff interviewed the former, 
and was told that the letter, which had been returned 
to its rightful owner, was from a correspondent in Kirkin- 
tilloch, acknowledging the receipt of a number of pamphlets 
which he had distributed with " most beneficial effects." ^ 
This clue was followed up, and Muir was arrested on January 
2, 1793, and examined before the sheriff as to his movements 
in the west of Scotland, and his alleged circulation of certain 
works, including Paine's. On principle, Muir refused to 
answer these questions, and he was liberated on bail. A 
week later, Robert Dundas reported to his uncle that Muir 
had set out for London to attend a reform meeting there, 
but that there was sufficient evidence against him, and his 
indictment was being prepared.^ 

There is no doubt that such vigorous action commended 
itself to the vast majority of the middle and upper classes. 
There was not a corporation, municipal or ecclesiastical, 
not a society however humble, but felt itself called upon to 
denounce the reformers and testify its loyalty. The declara- 
tion of the Burgh of Culross, for example, fills nearly a 
column of the Caledonian Mercury? The Highland Society, 
on the initiative of Henry Erskine, ordered to be translated 
into Gaelic a series of resolutions expressing " their greatest 

^ Ibid. Dec. 18, 1792. On Dec. 26, Dundas consulted the legal advisers 
of the Home Office as to the advisability of preferring against Muir 
the charge of having circulated various papers which he enclosed. He 
was informed that " the papers, if prosecuted at all, must be prosecuted in 
Scotland where they were published." Messrs. Chamberlayne and White, 
6 Lincoln's Inn, to H. Dundas, Dec. 26, 1792, Scot. Corr. vol. vi. 

Scot. Corr. vol. vii. Jan. 9, 1793. Referring to Muir and Tytler he 
writes to Nepean on Jan. 21 : "The great object is to satisfy the country 
that within the British dominions none of these fellows are safe, and that 
every exertion will be made by government to bring them to justice." 

^Cal. Mer. Dec. 15, 1792. 



abhorrence of the exertions of evil-designing persons." ^ In 
like strain are those of the United Grocers of Edinburgh, 
the Bakers of Stirhng, the Burgess Golf Club of Edinburgh, 
the Free Masons of Newton Douglas, and a hundred others. 
Some went further. St. Andrews resolved "not to employ 
any tradesman or other person whatever who discovers prin- 
ciples adverse to the spirit of the resolutions." ^ In other 
cases the reformers mustered in such force as to alter 
materially the significance of the motions proposed at 
public meetings, by carrying amendments that defects did 
indeed exist in the Constitution, though they were such as 
would be corrected by the wisdom of Parliament.^ Such 
unsatisfactory proceedings were carefully noted at the Home 
Office. Associations against Levellers and Republicans, on 
the model of the Goldsmiths' Hall Association, were estab- 
lished throughout the country, and soon every village was 
divided into rival camps of Government Men and Democrats.^ 
As an additional means of counteracting the reformers, 
the secret service fund was drawn upon to meet the expenses 
of defending the Constitution in the press. ^ On December 
12, 1792, the Lord Advocate applied to the Home Secretary 
for £400 for the Edinburgh Herald "to be repaid imme- 
diately," ^ and it was eventually allowed £50 every half 
year. Payments to various writers in the Caledonian 

1 Cal. Mer. Jan. 12 and 19, 1793. Scot. Corr. vol. vi. Dec. 28, 1792. 

"^Glasgow Advertiser^ Dec. 17, 1792 ; Jan. 11, 1793. 

^ E.g. Selkirk, Craig Brown, Hist, of Selkirkshire., ii. 126; Dumfries, 
Chambers, Life of Biir7ts., ed. Wallace, iv. 132. The Dalkeith Farmers' 
Society, consisting of representatives of twenty parishes, had the following 
toasts : " May we have no Fox in our folds nor Greys [wild oats] among 
our corn ; may we never have reason to reflect with Pain on our constitu- 
tion ; may our patriotism never depend on Price or Priestly influence." 
Scot. Corr. vol. vii. Jan. 4, 1793. 

^Statement of Secret Service Fund, Feb.-June, 1793; Sept. 1793 — 
Jan. 1794 ; April, 1794 ; Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500. 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. vi. Dec. 12. 



Mercury during the winter of 1792 seem to have amounted 
to the substantial sum of £134. Similarly the Lord Provost 
of Glasgow spent £40 in providing loyalist literature for the 
masses.^ The same work was performed by the Goldsmiths' 
Hall Association, which not only undertook to distribute 
any pamphlets sent down from London by Dundas, but 
itself published anti-democratic leaflets.^ Its most am- 
bitious effort in this line was the Patriot, written to order 
by the Rev. Dr. Hardy, who had earned his laurels as a 
pamphleteer by his Principles of Moderation in the patronage 
controversy.^ With like success he now addressed himself 
to the " politicians of the clubs." Thinking men, he owned, 
admitted that there was room for improvement in burgh 
elections, qualification of voters, the Test and Corporation 
Acts, etc., but the Legislature was competent to effect this, 
and was solely and exclusively competent to judge of the 
times and the seasons. If the clubs wanted a republic, 
let them consider the hypocrisy and oppression of Crom- 
well's.* After defending the Pension List, and denouncing 
" Paine's system of pillage," the author concluded with 
the usual eulogium on the felicity of the British nation.^ 
Hardy was only the best of the clerical champions of the 

^ " In consequence of the conversation that passed at Arniston amongst 
you, Mr. Secy. Dundas, the Lord Provost, and myself last winter." 
Sheriff Orr to Ld. Adv. July 29, 1793, Scot. Corr. vol vii. 

^Ld. Adv. to H. Dundas, Dec. 9, 1792, Scot. Corr. vol. vi. ; Cat. Mer. 
Dec. 27. 

^Edin. 1793. "I hope Hardy's Patriot meets with the same approba- 
tion in London that it universally does here. Moodie's Political Preaching 
in answer to Dunn at Kirkintilloch has had the most beneficial effects.' 
Ld. Adv. to H. Dundas, Jan. 13, 1793. A copy of the Patriot was 
forwarded for Pitt's inspection on Jan. 4 ; v. also Kay, Orig. Portraits 
ii. 50, " The Reverend Patriot." 

^ This, of course, was the accepted opinion of Cromwell at the time. 

^The Pension List had been published with adverse comments in the 
Opposition press. Scots Mag. Dec. 4, 1792. 



established order of things. It would be difficult to estimate 
the number of sermons based on such texts as : " Fear God 
and honour the King," " My son, meddle not with those 
that are given to change," or, '* Who is like unto thee, O 
people, saved by the Lord ? " ^ In these the reader was 
reminded, or rather informed, that God's government of 
the whole world was a monarchy, and that the language of 
the reformers was, " No King, no nobility, no Parliament, 
no clergy." ^ fg^y laymen, Lovers of their Country," 

warned the Friends of the People that political affairs were 
" above the comprehension of tradesmen," that they were 
responsible for encouraging the unprincipled poor and 
stirring up workmen to demand an increase of wages, and 
that arrayed against them were the Genius, the Virtue, 
the Industry, the Property, and the Religion of their 
country." ^ Innumerable pamphlets dwelt with circumstan- 
tial detail on the massacres in France, and gave reasons to 
prove that the Scottish reformers were but Dantons in 

With fewer resources, and with the threat of prosecution 
hanging over their heads, the Friends of the People were 
content with denying in their published resolutions the 
designs with which they were charged. One of their 
number, however. Colonel Macleod, safeguarded by his 
privileges as a Member of Parliament,^ undertook their 

^ V. book lists in the Scofs Mag. Oct. 1792 et seq. 

2 Rev. W. Dalgleish, D.D., The Excellence of the British Constitution 
and the Evil of changing I t^ Edin. 1793. 

^ An Address to the Association of the Friends of the People^ by A Lover 
of His Country, Edin. 1792 ; Facts, Refiectio?ts and Queries submitted to 
the Consideration of the Associated Friends of the People, Edin. 1 792. 

^Referring to Col. Macleod's "most wonderful production in last 
[Edinburgh'] Gazetteer" the Ld. Adv. wonders if it is "actionable or 
contrary to the privileges of the House of Commons, which I doubt." 
Letter to H. Dundas, Jan. 14, 1793, Scot. Corr. vol. vii. 



defence in his Letters to the Friends of the People.'^ Having 
the honour to be the first member of the present legis- 
lature who had the virtue openly to join the associations of 
the people of Scotland, instituted for the purpose of obtain- 
ing a reform of Parliament, he felt the strongest impulse to 
address them at this interesting and alarming period. What 
were the calumnies against the Friends of the People ? 
" The destruction of a despotic throne has been represented 
as a probable precedent for the demolition of a limited 
monarchy ; the extinction of the most degenerate set of 
nobles that ever existed in any kingdom has been stated as 
a forerunner of the ruin of our respectable peerage ; the 
cruelties which have been committed at Paris by a few 
execrable ruffians have been imputed to the whole French 
nation ; and we are now insulted with affected apprehensions 
that similar atrocities may be expected in the capitals of 
London and Edinburgh/' Convulsions in the past had 
never been tainted with the crimes of popular executions 
and assassinations, and there was no reason to believe that 
the national character had changed. No one denied that 
a reform was desirable, but the cry was that the people 
could not be trusted. In England, every class of society 
had some voice in the election of their representatives. 
In Scotland, the manufacturer, the farmer, and the artisan 
had none, though it was a well-known fact that these classes 
were much better educated than the corresponding classes 
in England. " Such a people," he declared, " is marked 
by the finger of God to possess, sooner or later, the fullest 
share of liberty which is compatible with that order and 

^ Two Letters from Norman Macleod^ M.P.^ to the Chairman of the 
Friends of the People at Edinburgh^ Edin. printed for A. Scott, 
Gazetteer Office, 1793. The same pamphlet, with the title Letters 
to the People of North Britain^ was published in London. Macleod 
was also the author of Considerations on False and Real Alarms^ 
Lond. 1794. 



those institutions which form the basis of well-regulated 
communities. ... By x^iolence you can do nothing ; by 
constitutional patience and endeavours you will accomplish 
all your objects." Unfortunately the author, in referring 
to Enghsh troops sent against " imaginar}- Scotch insurrec- 
tions/' made most mischievous allusions to the valour of 
his countr}-men in the days of the " Edwards and Hemr^^s." 

March your standing army/' he \^Tote, apostrophising the 
Ministr}', " march 3'our militia into the heart of Scotland ; 
my countrymen greet them \dth peace and welcome, 
with hospitahty and fratemit}' ; they will receive them into 
their houses, and \^ill communicate to them the knowledge 
of those rights which are essential to the happiness of man- 
kind." Such language tended to discount the concluding 
exhortation of the first letter : "Be not rash ; be not im- 
petuous ; imitate the Great Pattern of long-suffering ; 
venerate the Constitution as it is ; and search only for loyal 
and gentle corrections." 

These pamphlets were intended for the trader and the 
artisan, but there were others for still more popular con- 
sumption. One Bro^^TL of Dundee, by a leaflet entitled 
Look before Ye Loup, brought himself under the notice 
of Henr\' Dundas, who estabhshed him in Edinburgh as 
the editor of a new Government organ, the Patriot's Weekly 
Chronicle.'^ As in the days of the Reformation, ballads and 
songs spread the new doctrines among the common people. 
Those of Bums and of \\'ilson, the Paisley weaver poet, 
are the best kno\^'n. Wilson, indeed, in his Address to the 

^ Correspondence of Bro^\-n ^^-ith the Ld. Adv. and others. Edin. 
Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500. The Sohcitor General declared that 
his compositions rivalled those of Principal Robertson. As late as 
March, 1798, the Goldsmiths' Hall Association recommended to the 
favourable notice of the Home Secretar\- a Mr. White, who, in 1793, 
had %\Titten four pamphlets. One was entitled. The Cat let out of 
the Pock. 



Synod of Glasgow and Ayr struck a clearer, if less poetic note 
than Burns himself : 

The Rights of Man is now well kenned, 
And red by mony a hunder ; 
For Tammy Paine the buik has penned. 
And lent the court a lounder. 
It's like a keeking-glass to see 
The craft of kirk and statesmen. 
And wi' a bauld and easy glee, 
Guid faith, the birky beats them 
Aff hand this day. 

Though G dy be deluded now, 

And kens na what's a-doing, 
Yet aiblins he may find it true 
There is a blast a-brewing. 
For British boys are in a fiz. 
Their heads like bees are humming, 
And for their rights and liberties. 
They're mad upon reforming 
The court this day.^ 

Burns, in his " Tree of Liberty " and other poems, some of 
which, for obvious reasons, have not survived, did not conceal 
his sympathy for the French Revolution. ^ But sooner than 
Wordsworth and Coleridge he lost his enthusiasm ; for, in 
the beginning of 1795, he came forward with public proof 
of his loyalty to the King in his song, " Does haughty Gaul 
invasion threat ? " More familiar productions of his genius 
due to the influence of the French Revolution are " Scots 
wha hae " and " A man's a man for a' that." In the 
former he gave expression to those memories of the past 
which were now subtly blended with the political struggles 

^ IVorks, Belfast, 1844. Life of Wilson by Sir W. Jardine in American 
Ornithology. Ed. C. L. Bonaparte. Lond. 1832. 

2 R. Chambers, Life and Works of Robert Burns^ ed. W. Wallace, 
iv. 133. Burns and the French Revolution is fully discussed in 
A. Angellier's Robert Burns ^ Sa Vie et Ses CEuvres, i. chap. vi. sect. 2, 
ii. chap. ii. ; v. also Hume Brown, Hist, of Scot. iii. 394. 



of the hour ; ^ while in the latter — " The Marseillaise of 
Equality as Angellier calls it — he embodied not only the 
philosophy, but even the very words of Paine.^ 

Amid the strife of pamphleteers, the exhortation of 
friends, and the denunciation of foes, the reforming societies 
continued to meet, though the prosecutions were beginning 
to tell on their numbers. On January 3, 1793, the spy 
reported that further investigation of this kind " would 
be unnecessary. The most influential members were absent- 
ing themselves from the weekly meetings, and even when they 
did attend the monthly local conventions, they were en- 
deavouring to persuade the enthusiasts to " lie by " until 
the atmosphere should clear, and to refrain from further 
action until the result of their petition to Parliament should 
be known. Through the exertions of Millar and Morthland, 
the Edinburgh Associated Societies rejected a resolution 
against the threatened war with France, It was proposed by 
T. F. Palmer, the Unitarian minister of Dundee, who, having 
established himself in Edinburgh, was now President of 
the Lawnmarket Association Morthland argued that the 
Convention had only to do with Parliamentary reform, and 
though one or two of the individual societies published 
declarations against the war, the moderates carried their 
point.* A visit from Lord Daer and Colonel Macleod 

^ " The accidental recollection of that glorious struggle for Freedom, 
associated with the glowing ideas of some other struggles of the same 
nature, ?iot quite so ancient^ roused my rhyming mania." Burns to 
Thomson, Chambers, iv. 37-8. Chambers suggested that he had in 
mind the message of the Scottish barons to the Pope. If so, he may 
have got the idea from Mackintosh, v. aiite^ chap. iii. p. 59. 

2 So Professor MacCunn pointed out. Chambers, iv. 186. 

3 Palmer was an M.A., B.D. of Queen's College, Cambridge. After 
adopting Unitarian views, he left Cambridge for Montrose, where W. 
Christie had opened a Unitarian chapel. State Trials^ xxiii. 377-382, 
where his biography is given. 

Scot, Corr. vol. vii. Jan. 3, 1793. 



towards the end of January infused new energy into the 
Friends of the People, ^ and the work of circulating the 
reform petition was actively carried on in spite of strenuous 
opposition. The Lord Justice Clerk's sister, for example, 
threatened to withdraw the patronage of herself and her 
friends from the shopkeeper bold enough to have it lying on 
his counter for subscription ; a zealous doctor in Edinburgh 
carried off one of the advertising placards, while the soldiers 
at Dalkeith stole the petition itself. ^ Under these circum- 
stances, some of the societies began to lose heart. At 
the beginning of March, the Abbeyhill Association burnt its 
books, and the Lawnmarket Society suspended its meetings ;^ 
while the better to hide the fact of its diminishing numbers, 
Canongate No. 2 branch amalgamated with No. i.* Yet 
this did not discourage the enthusiasts ; for at the convention 
of the same month Fowler failed to carry a motion to the 
effect that, since the majority of the nation seemed content 
with their political state, the Friends of the People should 
take leave of their country with a final declaration of their 
true aims.^ Palmer appears even to have secured the 
adoption of a revised form of his peace resolutions, though 
the Gazetteer " rejected them in toto." ^ The more ardent 
members were doubtless encouraged by the reports from the 
country received by the indefatigable Skirving.'' While 
the monthly fourpences were with difficulty collected in 
Edinburgh, the country subscriptions soon cleared all ex- 
penses. According to Watt, the spy, there was even more 

1 Scot. Corr. vol. vii. Jan. 24. 2 /^/^^ M?Lr. 6. 

^ Ibid. Mar. i. ^ Ibid. Mar. 20. ^ Ibid. vol. viii. Mar. 6. 

^ Ibid. Mar. 13. Johnston, the editor, had just been ordered by the 
Court of Justiciary to find security for his good behaviour. He had 
inserted in the Edinburgh Gazetteer a too accurate report of Braxfield's 
language in one of the trials. State Trials^ xxiii. 43 ; Cockburn, Exam, 
of Trials for Sedn, i. 119. 
Scot. Corr. Mar. 15. 



enthusiasm for the petition in the provinces than in the 
capital ; for he found that in Perth and Pathhead, it was 
being largely signed by many who had never joined the 
Friends of the People. ^ 

A more popular topic among these societies was the war. 
Some handbills had been distributed as early as December, 
1792,2 and in the following January the delegates of the 
associations in Perth and the neighbourhood printed a 
broadsheet giving their views on the cause of strife. " By 
universal right and general sanction," it declared, " all 
rivers are free in those nations through whose countries 
they flow ; and as no good reason can be given why the 
Scheldt only should be an exception to the laws of nature 
and nations, the opening of that river can never justify 
a war with the French." ^ On February 16, Sheriff Orr of 
Glasgow wrote to the Home Secretary that the Friends of 
the People in his county had of late been publishing violent 
resolutions in the newspapers about reform, and expressing 
a strong aversion to war. He enclosed the manifesto of 
the Paisley United Societies, which, after referring to the 
dispute over the Scheldt, concluded : It is of the utmost 
importance to your commercial interests as well as to the 
great cause of humanity." The manufacturers of Stirling 
and the neighbourhood joined in a similar protest,* and the 
Friends of the People in Glasgow who had been very quiet 
since January began to hold their meetings again. ^ 

1 Scot. Corr. vol. viii. Feb. 9, 1793 ; Dundas's agent in Montrose gave a 
similar report. Mrs. S. B to H. Dundas, Feb. 24, 1793. 

Ibid. vol. vi. Dundee, Dec. 30, 1792. 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. vii. The following societies in the west published 
resolutions against the war : Bridgetown (near Glasgow), Renton, Irvine, 
Kilmarnock, Loch Mill, Lennox Town, Torrence, Campsie, Cambuslang, 
Darvel. Glasgow Advertiser^ Jan. to Mar. 1793. 

^Scot. Corr. vol. vii. Feb. 15 ; Cal. Mer. Feb. 18. 

« Ibid. Sheriff Orr to W. Scot, Mar. 1 5. 


This activity, especially in the west, accounted for the 
success of the second General Convention which met in 
Edinburgh on the last day of April. One hundred and 
sixteen delegates from the societies of some twenty-eight 
towns and villages were present. ^ While some of the 
associations, such as Stirling, were no longer represented, 
others, like Selkirk, appeared on the list for the first time. 
A greater change was evident in the character of the dele- 
gates. Not more than a dozen had been present at the 
first Convention, and none of the Edinburgh advocates, 
who had formerly figured so conspicuously, attended the 
second. Only two of the prominent members were present, 
Aitchison and Skirving, and there is evidence that the 
delegates as a whole were of a lower type than their pre- 
decessors. The dominating personality in the assembly was 
one Sinclair from Glasgow, and it was with difficulty that 
Aitchison and " James Sommerville, Esquire, of Holmes," 
succeeded in counteracting his influence. One of Sinclair's 
motions, " that they should make a declaration of their 
rights as men and as Britons," occasioned a long and warm 
discussion, " some being excited by the cheerful glass." 
Their rights as men, Aitchison argued, took in a much 
wider range of political ideas, and would, if entered on, 
involve them in a labyrinth from which they might find it 
impossible to extricate themselves. These words compre- 
hended the essence of the French Constitution, and of 
Paine's Rights of Man, a book already condemned by a 
British jury. All that they could wish for was a renovation 
of the constitution. Let them therefore stick to their 
rights as Britons but delete the words " rights as men." 
Ultimately the motion was withdrawn, though another, to 

^The minutes, as extended from the Spy's shorthand notes, are in 
vol. viii. Unfortunately they only give the proceedings of the first day and 
part of the second. The list of delegates will be found in Appendix B. 



the effect that the societies should dissolve after the decision 
of Parliament regarding their petition, was defeated by 
a large majority. It was decided to recommend the 
different societies to persevere in the cause of Parliamentary 
reform until such time as they should obtain the end for 
which they had associated/' The moderates, however, 
prevailed on the others to postpone the consideration of 
resolutions against the war till the evening sitting of the 
second day. Further information regarding the proceedings 
is lacking, but the Convention was so far successful in its 
main object, that Grey's famous petition, when presented 
to Parliament in May, was supported by thirteen from Scot- 
land, Colonel Macleod's from Edinburgh extending the whole 
length of the House.^ 

Grey's motion was rejected, and the conservative re- 
action, due to dread of the French Revolution, drove the 
English Whig reformers into the political wilderness for 
nearly forty years. The Scottish burgh and county re- 
formers shared the same fate. After the defeat of Sheridan's 
motion in May, 1792, Dundas had brought in a Bill to 
control municipal expenditure, the one defect officially 
admitted in burgh administration. This concession was 
refused by the burgesses, as the auditors were to be appointed 
by the self-elected magistrates. In March, 1793, Sheridan 
succeeded in obtaining the appointment of a committee of 
the Commons, which, in June, gave in a report establishing 
most of the grievances complained of. But the London 
committee of the burgesses warned their friends in Scotland 
that there was no prospect of further success — the very 
sound of liberty having become odious to British ears. The 

^ Ca/. Mer. May 11, 1793. "The petitions from the Convention of the 
Friends of the People at Edinburgh would arrive this morning as you will 
see by the enclosed. I doubt not Macleod will present it. So consider if 
such a body of petitioners can be acknowledged by the House of Commons." 
R. to H. Dundas, May 3, 1793. 


burgh reform agitation was thereupon suspended. ^ At 
the same time, the county reform movement came to an 
end. The decision of the House of Lords in 1790 had failed 
to abohsh nominal and fictitious voters. Consequently 
another convention of county delegates assembled in 
December, 1792.^ A committee was then appointed, which 
in February, 1793, drafted another Bill. This Bill was 
discussed at a convention in July of the same year. Lord 
Chief Baron Dundas presided, and the Lord Advocate 
attended as a representative of his native county. It 
was proposed not only to abolish nominal and fictitious 
votes, but also to extend the franchise to those who 
held property valued at £100 Scots. The convention, after 
approving simply of the preamble, which affirmed that all 
landowners originally possessed the right to be represented 
in Parliament, referred the whole matter back to the county 
meetings. These dilatory tactics were due to the Lord 
Advocate, and to bar further progress more effectually, 
he called a meeting of his " friends in Midlothian, who 
drew up a report giving a circumstantial account of the 
convention. It stated that " the minds of many members 
of the community were filled with most delusive and danger- 
ous doctrines with respect to civil government,*' and it 

^Fletcher, Memoir^ 12^. 

2 " I am not a little anxious as to the result of to-morrow's meeting 
of delegates on the Election laws. Harry Erskine is playing off the 
business on party motives. Sir Thomas Dundas is led by him, and 
they will drive their schemes through so as to bring it before Parliament 
this winter. We shall resist it. But whether successfully or not, I am 
sorry to say, is uncertain. Berwickshire from excess of zeal refused 
to countenance the scheme at all, which, however right some months 
ago, is in fact depriving us now of five votes." R. to H. Dundas, Dec. 9, 
1792, Scoi. Corr. vol. vi. Three days later, the Lord Advocate reported 
that the Bill was so ridiculed that he believed Erskine and T. Dundas 
would drop it themselves. " I repent much of my ever having set my face 
there," he wrote on Jan. 15, 1794. Margarot and Gerrald {infra^ ch. vii.) 
did not fail to remind him that he also had attended a reform convention. 



recommended the more conservative Bill of 1785. Even 
this recommendation was of little value, for in April, on the 
hint of the Lord Advocate, Midlothian withdrew its delegates 
and informed the other counties of its decision. An obviously 
inspired letter appeared in the press during the same month 
advising them to return " to the known track of constitu- 
tional procedure " and denouncing delegation as dangerous. 
In May, various counties recalled their delegates, and county 
reform became moribund. ^ 

To the astonishment of the Lord Advocate, the Friends 
of the People still gave signs of vitality. ^ To answer a 
long-standing complaint that there was nothing to do,'* 
the Edinburgh Society instituted political debates.^ The 
affairs of the Edinburgh Gazetteer also provided a topic for 
discussion, with the result that the newspaper became, in 
a sense, the official organ of the societies.* Most of the 
provincial associations, forsaking their original programme, 
were now engaged in protesting against the war. The 
delegates of all the societies of the County of Renfrew issued 
a further manifesto pointing out that the prolonging of the 
war — its professed object of throwing open the Scheldt 
being accomplished — afforded the strongest and most 

^ Cal. Mer. April and May, passim. 

2 " I had no idea they would have stuck so long and so well together." 
R. Dundas to Nepean, June 21, 1793, Scot. Corr. vol. viii. 

^ The first discussion was whether men of property ought to be repre- 
sented in Parliament. "The chief speaker quoted largely from Croix's 
book on the government of Europe and the United States of America." 

^Captain Johnston's offer was made in a general committee of the 
Friends of the People meeting as individuals. He was wilHng to hand 
over the type, etc., if paid simple interest on the money he had sunk 
in the concern, and provided ;^5oo was subscribed to continue the paper 
upon the principles on which it had started. The sum raised was to 
be entrusted to a committee and not upHfted for three years. It was 
agreed to get subscription papers ready at once. Spy's reports, June 16, 
18, 21, Scot. Corr. vol. viii. 



melancholy proof of the absolute necessity there was of a 
speedy and thorough reform in the representative system 
of Great Britain. ^ Though the Glasgow societies did not 
take any steps in their collective capacity, a petition against 
the war, said to be drawn up by Professor Millar, was largely 
signed. 2 " You may rest assured," wrote the Lord Advocate 
to his uncle, " from the accounts I have received from 
Glasgow and from Perth and Angus, that those rascals 
have laid a plan for exciting the country again to discontent 
and disorder on account of the war, and that this is the 
topic on which they are to dwell." ^ He enclosed an address 
on the subject, printed at Dundee and circulated in 
Edinburgh. Palmer, the Methodist clergyman who lately 
went over to Dundee, is strongly suspected. If he is the 
man, I shall doubt not his being got hold of ; which he was 
artful enough to keep clear of last winter." J. B., the 
chief Government spy, was sent to trace the suspect on the 
understanding that this would be considered " extra " and 
rewarded accordingly. The hunt was successful ; Palmer's 
Edinburgh agent was discovered along with some incrim- 
inating documents relating to the handbill. "He is the 
most determined rebel in Scotland," wrote the Lord 

His letter contained the additional news of Muir's return 
and arrest. After his examination before the sheriff, Muir 
had left for London, where he had been received by Fox, 
Grey, and other Whig leaders, and welcomed by the Friends 
of the People. At a meeting of the society over which 
Thomas Erskine presided, Muir recounted the oppression to 

1 Ibid. July 5. They further voted " thanks to the Edinburgh Gazetteer 
and the Caledonian Chronicle for the impartial manner in which they 
disseminated truth and political knowledge." 

-Ibid. July 2 and 12, 1793. ^ Ibid. July 29. 

^ Ibid. Aug. 2, 1793. This aspect of Palmer's case has not hitherto been 
noticed, e.g. in Diet. Nat. Biog. 




which he and his friends in Scotland were subjected, and he 
was heard with murmurs and marked signs of contempt 
of the agents in power." On the motion of Mr. Taylor, 
Member of Parliament, a committee was appointed to take 
the situation into consideration. A few days later, Muir 
set out for Paris " to try what could be done with the Con- 
vention to save the life of a certain great personage, and to 
circulate it as the opinion of the people in Britain that the 
death of the king would disgrace the cause of freedom for 
ever.'* ^ Muir arrived at his destination the day before 
the execution, and he lingered in Paris cultivating the friend- 
ship of Barras, Condorcet, and Lafayette. He wrote to his 
friends in Edinburgh, asking them to warn him of the date 
fixed for his trial, as he was determined to plead his cause 
in person. The day appointed was February ii, but Muir 
was unable to leave France owing to the outbreak of hostili- 
ties. He therefore failed to appear, was outlawed, and his 
name struck off the roll of advocates. Extraordinary 
stories were current in Edinburgh as to his doings abroad. ^ 

'^Resume of Muir's letter to Skirving, Jan. 20 (?), 1793, Scot. Corr. 
vol. viii. It was therefore not only " at his trial," as Dr. Holland Rose is 
inclined to believe {Pitt and the Great War, p. 175), that Muir gave his 
reasons for the journey. 

2 In his letter to Skirving, Muir said that if it was determined to bring 
him to trial, his stay in Paris would be short, as he intended to plead 
his own cause in person. A letter of James Smith, who had fled to France 
on being cited for sedition in connection with an advertisement in the 
Glasgow Advertiser {State Trials, xxiii. 33), was opened at the Glasgow 
Post Office. It was dated Paris, February 15. The writer stated that he 
had met Muir accidentally in Paris. Muir told him that he had only 
received notice of his indictment on the 8th, and that he was making 
arrangements to return as soon as he got his passport, a matter of some 
difficulty. " Mr. Muir," he added, " makes a great sacrifice in coming so 
soon back as he has already made a very great proficiency in the language, 
has made valuable and dear connections, and is enchanted with the 
climate." On March i, J. B. reported that he had learnt the con- 
tents of a letter of Muir to his father from one who had seen it. Seven 
manufacturers in the west of Scotland had asked him to purchase ^50,000 
worth of land in France where they meant to set up a factory. " Mr. Muir 


Now it was rumoured that he had enhsted in the National 
Guard of France ; now, that his return to his native country 
would be " like Coriolanus with an army of the enemy at 
his back." ^ Nothing definite was known until his arrest 
at Stranraer, when it transpired that he had left France in 
an American vessel which touched at Dublin. There he had 
been received by the Society of United Irishmen, of which 
he had been enrolled a member in January, 1793. Thence 
he had made his way to Scotland. These peregrinations did 
not tend to increase Muir's chance of acquittal, for the 
Lord Advocate had now no doubt that he was an emissary 
from France or the disaffected in Ireland." ^ 

His trial, which began on August 30, has been exhaustively 
examined by Lord Cockburn, who remarks : " This is one 
of the cases the memory whereof never perisheth, history 
cannot let its injustice alone." ^ Most of the injustice was 
due to the panic pervading all classes, including the bench.* 
When, in the beginning of the year, the Lord Provost of 
Edinburgh paid a state visit to the Court of Session, the 
Lord President delivered a violent speech against the 
reformers, which was printed, and scattered broadcast over 

adds that he would have come over and stood his trial and paid any fine, 
however high, if he had been certain that he would not have been con- 
demned to imprisonment or sent to Botany Bay." Scot. Corr. vol. vii. 

^ Spy's reports, Feb. 16, 21, 1793. 

2R. to H. Dundas, Aug. 2, 1793, Scot. Corr. vol. viii. The Government 
dreaded a coalition of the reformers of the three kingdoms. " I under- 
stand," wrote Major Hobart to Nepean, " that Mr. Archdeacon from 
London and Mr. Muir from Scotland are expected here in the course of a 
short time for the purpose of establishing a more intimate correspondence 
between the societies of England, Scotland, and Ireland." Irish Corr. 
vol. xxxviii. Dec. 19, 1792. Hobart enclosed a copy of the Address of the 
United Irishmen which Muir had defended in the Convention. 

^Cockburn, op. cit. i. 144-184 ; State Trials^ xxiii. 117 et seq. 

* This is hit off in the amusing speech of Lord Eskgrove in the skit 
entitled, "The Diamond Beetle Case," reprinted in Dean Ramsay's 
Reminiscences^ ch. v. 



the country. 1 But the trial also exemplified some character- 
istic defects of the Scottish courts. The judges had practi- 
cally the selection of the jurymen in their own hands. ^ 
When a trial took place in Edinburgh, the sheriff of each 
of the Lothians sent in a list of forty-five names. From 
these hundred and thirty-five, the justiciary clerk chose 
forty-five, from which, on the day of hearing, the judge 
picked the fifteen jurymen without challenge on the part of 
the accused. In Muir's case, the bench exercised its rights 
to the full, and there is no doubt that care was taken to 
select those whom the Lord Advocate, with reference to 
Tytler's trial, had described as men of " proper principles." ^ 

^ Cal. Mer. Jan. 24, 1793. Col. Macleod seized the occasion to lay 
before the court a letter to the Lord President asking if the speech was as 
reported. "If your Lordship is ready to avow it, I am equally ready to 
counteract several propositions in it as perfectly unconstitutional, in the 
quality of a member of the British Legislature, and I mean to publish my 
sentiments as quickly as possible, but certainly not till your Lordship has 
sufficient time to honour me with an answer." The macer was instructed 
to inform Macleod that no notice was to be taken of his letter, but Hay 
Campbell, the Lord President, wrote an account of the incident to 
H. Dundas. " I should wish you would take the trouble of stating 
the thing to such authorities in the law as you may think proper to 
consult with, and give us the satisfaction of knowing whether we have 
actually done anything wrong or not." Scot. Corr. vol. vii. Jan. 25, 1793. 

2 In addition, the bench was also accused of browbeating the jury. 
V. The Rights mid Powers of Juries by a Member of the College of Justice, 
Edin. 1 79 1. Thoughts on the Privileges and Powers of Juries^ suggested 
by the case of James Robertson and Walter Berry ^ Prijtter and Bookseller^ 
Edin. 1793. 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. vii. Jan. 7, 1793. Four years later, a Mr. Lockhart 
wrote a begging letter to the Lord Advocate supporting his claims by 
affirming that he and a friend " went through the jury lists previous to 
every seditious trial, and, after making enquiries respecting those they did 
not well know, . . . were at length enabled to furnish the Lord Justice 
Clerk with fair and honest juries." W. Lockhart to Ld. Adv. Nov. 20, 1797. 
Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 501. Lockhart seems to have been depute 
sheriff clerk. State Trials, xxiii. 1256. Even in the United States of 
America, regarded by the Democrats of the time as the land of ideal liberty, 
Cobbett's trial, according to his own story, was delayed for two years 
owing to the difficulty of packing the jury. E. I. Carlyle, Life ofCobbett, 71- 



The jurymen were all members of the Goldsmiths' Hall 
Association, which had not onty struck Muir's name off its 
roll, but had even offered a reward for the discovery of any 
persons circulating Paine's works — the very offence of which 
the prisoner was now accused. ^ 

Muir's indictment contained three main charges : exciting 
disaffection by seditious speeches, circulating Paine's Rights 
of Man and other seditious works, and reading and defending 
the Address of the United Irishmen in the first General 
Convention of the Friends of the People. The first charge, 
as the public prosecutor knew full well, could not have been 
substantiated even by the spy's reports. The second 
depended for the most part on the evidence of a suspiciously 
learned servant who had been in Muir's household. Of 
the third Muir was undoubtedly guilty, ^ though only one 
witness brought this fully home to him, and the address 
itself, intemperate as it was, could hardly be described as 
seditious. It was enough, however, for the Lord Advocate 
and the judges that the accused was a " French emissary," 
had been outlawed, had a seal inscribed with the words 
" Ca ira," and was a member of a society which was playing 
the same part in Ireland as the London Corresponding 
Society in England.^ Demon of mischief," " pest of 

^ Cockburn takes this as certain because Muir's assertions were never 
contradicted ; but in the Cal. Mer. Dec. 27, 1792, will be found the 
advertisement of the association offering a reward of five guineas to any- 
one giving evidence that "any bookseller in Scotland, had, after this 
date, sold or distributed gratis, Paine's Rights of Man, or any abridg- 
ment of that pamphlet, or who shall give evidence of any other person 
having . . . circulated among the working people of Scotland copies of 
that libel on the Constitution. ..." 

^W^ith Cockburn's examination of this part of the evidence must now 
be compared the minutes of the Convention in Appendix A. 

^ It was not till two years later that the societies of United Irishmen 
became revolutionary in character. E. Guillon, La France et Plrlande 
pendant la Revolution^ chap. iv. 



Scotland/' " diabolical conduct," were the mildest expres- 
sions which Robert Dundas used in his address to the jury. 
Muir, in an eloquent and powerful speech which lasted three 
hours, pled guilty to one offence, and that not in the indict- 
ment — the advocacy of Parliamentary reform. " What has 
been my crime } " he exclaimed. Not lending a relation 
a copy of Mr. Paine's works ; not the giving away to another 
a few copies of an innocent and constitutional publication ; 
but for having dared to be, according to the measure of my 
feeble abilities, a strenuous and active advocate for an 
equal representation of the people in the House of the 
People." Braxfield, the Lord Justice Clerk, in speaking to the 
jury, — for, according to Cockburn, it would be an abuse of 
the term to say that he made a judicial charge, — corroborated 
Muir's view. " I leave it for you to judge," he said, "whether 
it was perfectly innocent or not in Mr. Muir, at such a time, 
to go about among ignorant country people, and among the 
lower classes of people, making them leave off their work, 
and inducing them to believe that a reform was absolutely 
necessary to preserve their safety and their liberty, which, 
had it not been for him, they would never have suspected 
to have been in danger." With brutal frankness he summed 
up the position of himself and his friends : "A government 
in every country should be just like a corporation ; and, in 
this country, it is made up of the landed interest, which 
alone has a right to be represented. As for the rabble, who 
have nothing but personal property, what hold has the nation 
on them ? What security for the payment of their taxes ? 
They may pack up all their property on their backs, and leave 
the country in the twinkling of an eye. But landed property 
cannot be removed." Muir was found guilty, and sentenced 
to transportation to Botany Bay for fourteen years, to the 
consternation of the jury who intended to send in a petition 
for leniency. But one of their number produced a letter 



threatening him with assassination for concurring in the 
verdict, and this, they considered, rendered it " impossible 
for them to interfere/' ^ Next month. Palmer, as the result 
of an equally outrageous trial, was punished with trans- 
portation for seven years, ostensibly for being art and part 
guilty of writing the address against the war issued by the 
Dundee Friends of Liberty, really because of his record as 
a reformer. 2 

These trials evoked widespread indignation. Jeffrey and 
Sir Samuel Romilly, who were present in court, were horrified 
at the conduct of the judges. In France, the account of 
the proceedings published in the press deepened that hatred 
of England to which Kersaint had given expression in the 
National Convention in January, when he eulogised the 
zealous Scottish defenders of the principles of the French 
Revolution " who were meriting the honour of being perse- 
cuted by the British Government.'' ^ In America, where 
discussion of the French Revolution had still further pro- 
voked the animosities of Royalist and Republican, Muir was 
regarded by many as a martyr ; and it was in an American 
vessel, specially despatched for the purpose, that he even- 
tually effected his escape from Botany Bay.* In England, 
the London Corresponding and other democratic societies 
publicly avowed their admiration for Muir and his fellow 

Though the Friends of the People in London did not 
collectively express an opinion on the trial, their leaders 

^Cockburn, op. cit. i. 182. 

^ State Trials^ xxiii. 237 et seq. ; Cockburn, i. 184 et seq. 
^ Moniteur^ Jan. 3, 1793 ; Eng. trans. Lond. 1793. 

^ In later years, Muir's address to the jury was a favourite piece for 
declamation in New England schoolhouses. " Thomas Muir " by B. Drew, 
art. in Old and New, a Boston periodical, vol. ix. 1894, 316-321. 

^ Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. Place Coll. of Newspaper Cuttings^ vol. xxxvi. 



had soon an opportunity of doing so. In October, the Lord 
Advocate reported that the Earl of Lauderdale had visited 
Muir in prison in Edinburgh. Two months later, in company 
with Grey and Sheridan, he waited on Henry Dundas and 
pointed out that the judges had exceeded their legal powers 
by punishing leasing-making (verbal sedition) with trans- 
portation.i This view they put in writing, at the request 
of the Home Secretary, who referred the whole matter back 
to the Lord Justice Clerk and his colleagues for their opinion. ^ 
Braxfield reported that the cases of Muir and Palmer had 
nothing to do with leasing-making. " Upon the whole," 
he wrote, as I am perfectly clear that the court have full 
powers to transport for the crime of sedition, so I am equally 
clear that in this case the punishment is not greater than 
their conduct merited, and that any mitigation, by the 
interposition of the royal mercy, would in the present 
conjunction be a most inexpedient measure. In the course 
of two or three weeks, there will be no less than five different 
trials before the Court of Justice for the crime of sedition." ^ 
The Whigs next proceeded to bring the sentences before 
Parliament, where they were discussed on four different 
occasions.^ The debates were on party lines, all recon- 
sideration being refused by the Government ; but they drew 
from Fox words long remembered in Scotland : " God help 
the people who have such judges ! " 

^The punishment itself was illegal, according to one authority. The 
Act relating to the removal of offenders from Britain expired in 1788, and 
when it was renewed, Scotland was omitted. "Muir and Palmer were 
actually removed from Scotland, and transported to Botany Bay, though 
there was no statute then in force to warrant it." Diary of Lord Colchester^ 
i. 50. 

2 Memorial, Dec. 14, 1793, ^^<^l- Corr. vol. ix. 
Scot. Corr. vol. ix. Dec. 27, 1793. ^Cockburn, op. cit, ii. 133 et seq. 



The severity of Muir's sentence, instead of extinguishing the 
spirit and vigour of the Friends of the People, gave them 
new Hfe and activity. ^ The Canongate Society met to 
declare that, though the "Accuser of the Brethren" might 
brand Thomas Muir as the " Pest of Scotland," they exulted 
in the hope that the time would come when Scotland would 
regard him as her glory. ^ The two hundred members who 
attended the September monthly convention resolved that 
" so far from fainting in the day of evil, . . . they would 
immediately proceed to renovate their various societies 
before the sitting down of Parliament, on purpose to make 
up their minds about another application for redress of 
grievances and restoration of rights : that, with the same 
purpose, they would also immediately proceed to cultivate 
a more intimate correspondence with all the societies of 
Parliamentary reform in the kingdom." ^ The last clause 
was probably due to Skirving, the secretary, who, in the 
preceding April and May, had been in communication with 
the Sheffield, the Leeds, and the London Corresponding 

^ Spy's report, Sept. 6, 1793, Scof. Corr. vol. ix. 
"^Ibid. Sept. 3, 1793. 

^ Ibid, Sept. 5 and 7. ^The Edin. Gazetteer xtiMS^^ to print the resolutions 
as being " too dangerous," and they were ordered to be sent to the 
Morning Chronicle. 


Societies. 1 Hitherto the Scottish Friends of the People had 
only maintained a connection with the parent association 
in London ; now, unrestrained by the more moderate 
section who had withdrawn early in the year, they were 
entering on a more dangerous course. 

A letter from the London Corresponding Society, dated 
May 17, 1793, requested a " renewal of correspondence.'' ^ 
" Our petitions," it ran," have been all of them unsuccessful ; 
our attention must now therefore be turned to some more 
effectual means. From your society we would willingly 
learn them." Skirving, nothing loth,^ replied with character- 
istic self-importance, hinting at an international convention. 
In July, he wrote to the secretary of the London Friends 
of the People definitely proposing a " plan of delegates," 
but in a private letter that official gave it as his opinion 
that such a meeting would be " very improper." * The 
other English political associations welcomed the idea 
enthusiastically, though only three took action. On October 
17, the London Corresponding Society elected " Citizens 
Margarot and Gerrald " to represent them.^ Similarly the 
London Constitutional Society appointed Charles Sinclair 
and Henry York,^ and the Sheffield Society, M. C. Brown. 

^ Second Report of the Committee of Secrecy. Pari. Hist. xxxi. 727, 
815 et seq. 

2 Ibid. 729. The Jourttal of the London Corresponding Society does not 
reveal much previous correspondence. In addition to those communica- 
tions given ante^ chap, v., there is only this entry previous to the above 
date. "Dec. 6, 1792. A correspondence was ordered to be opened up 
at the first opportunity with Bath, Glascow {sic), Durham, Bamf {sic\ 
Dundee." Place Coll. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27812. 

2 An international convention had long been one of his ideas ; v. 
Appendix A. 

* Pari. Hist. xxxi. 842. 

* Their instructions are in State Trials, xxiv. 41, 42. 

* For their instructions v. State Trials, xxiv. 342. York fell ill on the 
way, and did not attend the Convention. 


" There is a Convention of the Friends of the People to 
be held here to-morrow/' wrote the Lord Advocate on 
October 28, in a letter urging Muir's removal to London. 
Though no respectable persons had as yet appeared amongst 
them, almost all the clubs of the previous year had been 
revived. Lord Lauderdale had visited Muir, and the case 
was to be brought before Parliament. This had already 
encouraged the clubs, and the bad news from the Continent 
was not likely to depress them.^ The Convention, which 
duly assembled on the following day, was attended by 
about one hundred and sixty delegates, those from the 
Edinburgh and Glasgow districts forming the majority. 2 
Although the English deputation had not arrived, busi- 
ness was at once proceeded with.^ Much time was spent, 
as usual, in appointing committees, and it was not till 
the evening of the second day that, amid signs of 
enthusiasm, the assembly declared for universal suffrage 
and annual Parliaments, the individual societies being 
subsequently instructed to make this vital change in their 
original constitutions. It was further resolved to petition 
Parliament for removal of grievances, and to address the 
Crown against the war. The Convention then adjourned 
till April, having sat for four days. 

Shortly afterwards, the English delegates arrived in 

^ Omond, Arniston Memoirs^ 237. 

2 Glasgow, Oct. 27, 1793, J. Dunlop to H. Dundas : "The Friends of 
the People . . . are still mdefatigable . . . but I do not think the people 
here have confidence in the leaders of the party, although I believe the 
general principles of it have taken very deep root and are making daily 
progress." Scot. Corr. vol. ix. 

^ The minutes of this Convention and its successor are printed in State 
Trials^ xxiii. 391 et seq. The original documents will be found in Scot. 
Corr. vol. ix. ; v. also An Account of the Proceedings of the British 
Convention^ by a Member, Lond. 1794 i)). The Earl of Lauderdale, 
though in Edinburgh at the time, refused to act as delegate of the 
Portsburgh Friends of the People. State Trials^ xxiv. 11 11. 



Edinburgh. On November 6, they attended a general 
committee meeting of the Edinburgh associations, when 
approval was given to the advertisement which Skirving 
had inserted in the Edinburgh Gazetteer, It recalled the 
members of the late Convention to another on Novem- 
ber 19.1 In the interval the EngHshmen were not idle, 
Margaret inaugurating a new society at Broughton, now 
a part of Edinburgh, and Gerrald visiting the reformers 
at Penicuik.2 Of the new Convention which met on 
November 19, it is difficult to give any precise account. 
The Government spy was unable to take shorthand notes, 
and he had to be content with borrowing the minutes 
from one of the assistant secretaries and making a 
hasty copy .3 One thing is evident : Gerrald and his com- 
panions soon justified the fears of the secretary of the 
London Friends of the People, that they would import into 

1 A. Hamilton Rowan and the Hon. Simon Butler, members of the 
United Irishmen, having arrived in Edinburgh on November 4, were 
present at this meeting. They did not come as delegates to the Con- 
vention as Dr. Holland Rose states {W7n. Pitt and the Great War, 180), 
but were admitted as such by the committee. State Trials, xxiii. 416. 
Hamilton Rowan's mission was to challenge the Lord Advocate for 
having characterised the United Irishmen as "wretches" in his speech 
at Muir's trial. A long correspondence on the matter, beginning on 
September 14, is preserved in the Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500. 
Even Pitt was twice consulted as to the course to be pursued by the 
Lord Advocate, who was inclined to accept the challenge. At last, 
Hamilton Rowan, having been examined before the sheriff, left Edinburgh 
without having attended the British Convention. He was entertained to 
dinner at Belfast on November 14, the toasts including "the Scotch 
Convention," "Mr. Muir," and "the swine of England, the rabble of 
Scotland, and the wretches of Ireland." Edin. Gazetteer, November 26, 
1793. Hamilton Rowan and Butler were subsequently arrested for having 
signed a paper issued by the United Irishmen denouncing the Irish 
Parliament. Lecky, Hist, of Eng. vii. 9 ; Kay, Orig. Ports, ii. 169 ; 
Omond, Amis ton Memoirs, 239. 

2 Spy's report, Nov. 16, Scot. Corr. vol. ix. 

^Letter of J. B., accompanying his copy of the minutes, Oct. 29, 1793, 
Scot. Corr. vol. ix. " They are meagre, abrupt, desultory and confused." 
Cockburn, Exam, of Trials for Sedti. \. 223. 



Scotland " that intemperate spirit which had brought blame 
on the moderate and sincere friends of reform in England." ^ 
They quickly took the lead ; for of former prominent 
members of the Scottish societies, Lord Daer, owing to ill- 
health, was present only for a few days, and Macleod, 
who had guardedly expressed his approval of the earlier 
Convention, openly withdrew his support from its successor. ^ 
In a week, the assembly had assumed the title of the British 
Convention of the Delegates of the Friends of the People 
associated to obtain Universal Suffrage and Annual Parlia- 
ments " — all joining hands to celebrate " this important 
epoch in the history of their country." Other topics 
discussed included the diffusion of knowledge in the 
Highlands, the affairs of the Edinburgh Gazetteer, and the 
Convention Bill recently passed in Ireland. The last led to 
the appointment of a secret committee of four, including 
the secretary, to fix the meeting of a " Convention of 
Emergency," the signal for which was to be the first 
announcement of a similar Bill for Britain, the suspension 
of the Habeas Corpus Act, the invasion of the country, 
or the admission of foreign troops ; and it was finally 
determined on December 4, " that the moment of any 
illegal dispersion of the present Convention " was also to 
be considered as a summons to the delegates to repair to 
the appointed place. 

These proceedings, as printed in the Edinburgh Gazetteer , 
appeared " so strong " to the Solicitor General and the 
Lord Advocate that they " agreed to take notice of 
them." 3 Margarot, Gerrald, Skirving, and some others were 

1 Pari. Hist. xxxi. 868. 

2 His letter is printed in the Edin. Gazetteer, No. 80, Dec. 10, 1793, 
Brit. Mus. Cf. State Trials, xxiii. 406. 

3R. to H. Dundas, Edin., Dec. 6, 1793, Scot. Corr. vol. ix. ; Omond, 
Arniston Meiiioirs, 242. 


apprehended early on Thursday, December 5, and their papers 
secured. In the evening, the Lord Provost, attended by 
thirty constables, compelled the Convention to disperse. The 
delegates re-assembled later the same evening ; but on the 
following night, while Margarot and Gerrald, who had been 
liberated on bail, were giving an account of their examination 
before the authorities, the sheriff-substitute of Edinburgh 
again broke up the gathering. " Behold," cried Gerrald, as 
he saw the lights of the attendants, " the funeral torches of 
liberty ! Scott, Sinclair, Skirving, Margarot, and Gerrald 
were subsequently indicted on a charge of sedition.^ Scott, 
the editor of the Edinburgh Gazetteer, sought safety in flight. 
Besides publishing the minutes of the Convention, he had 
printed an account of " the heroic lunacy of public spirit " 
shown by the Cobbler of Messina, who had secretly assassi- 
nated the oppressors of his country. " What if the Cobbler 
of Messina should revive ? '* was the daring comment. 
Sinclair, according to his counsel, Archibald Fletcher, 
became a Government spy, and his case was dropped. 
Skirving, Margarot, and Gerrald were tried and found 
guilty. Each received the same sentence as Muir. They 
had all played a prominent part in the British Convention, 
the object of which, the Lord Advocate said, was " not 
a reform but a subversion of Parliament, not a redress or 
cure of grievances, imaginary or real, in a legal, peaceable, 
and constitutional way, but a determined and systematic 
plan and resolution to subvert the limited monarchy and 

1 Political Martyrs of Scotland^ 23. The last attempt to assemble the 
Convention was made by Skirving on December 12. State Trials^ xxiii. 

2 State Trials^ xxiii. passim ; Cockburn, op. cit. i. and ii. passim. Of 
the others arrested, Callender was outlawed for non-appearance, 
and Wm. Moffat (Muir's solicitor), Geo. Ross and Wm. Ross were 
not brought to trial. Account of Proceedings of the British Con- 



free constitution of Britain, and substitute in its place, 
by intimidation, force, and violence, a republic or demo- 
cracy. ..." 1 

There can be no doubt that these individuals did agree 
as to the necessity of a national convention. According to 
their view of constitutional history, ^ universal suffrage and 
annual Parliaments dated from the time of Alfred,^ when 
every man had a vote and the people obeyed the laws 
which they themselves had made. In the process of time 
this original purity of the constitution had been lost. To 
regain it, the precedents of early history had to be followed. 
The people must be enlightened. " Then,'* said Gerrald, 

the people assembled in the different departments of the 
country will resemble the ancient folk-motes, and will speak 
in language too reasonable to be confuted, too peremptory 
to be refused." It was thus by the force of public opinion, 
and not by arms, that Parliament was to be overawed. 
Such an idea was chimerical. According to this reasoning, 
the convention could only become " national " by such an 
accession of numbers as would include all the inhabitants 
of the country. Yet during the sittings of the British 
Convention not more than one hundred and fifty had been 
present, and the funds raised during its session, as Thomas 

1 State Trials, xxiii. 545. 

2 V. Gerrald's speech at his trial, also his pamphlet, A Convention the 
only Means of saving us from Ruin . . . (1793), new edn. Lond. 1796, 
and The Address of the British Convention to the People of Great Britain, 
Lond. n.d. 

3 Alfred's was the golden age of political reformers. 

" A single jail in Alfred's golden reign 
Could all the nation's criminals contain. 
Fair justice then, without constraint ador'd. 
Held high the steady scales, but dropp'd the sword. 
No ' spies ' were paid, no ' special juries ' known, 
Blest age, but ah ! how different from our own ! " 

Ask and You Shall Have, Lond. 1795. 



Erskine carefully calculated, did not exceed fifteen pounds, 
including two bad shillings. But the proceedings of the 
delegates naturally lent themselves to the construction put 
on them by the Lord Advocate. In imitation of the French, 
they had called each other " citizens," divided themselves 
into " sections," received reports from these sections, some 
of which were headed " Vive la Convention ! " and ended 
with " ^a ira." They had also appointed committees of 
" organisation," of " instructions," of " finance," and of 
" secrecy," designated their meetings " sittings," granted 
" honours of sittings," dated their minutes the " First Year 
of the British Convention," and made " honourable men- 
tion " of patriotic donations. ^ The French Convention had 
led to a regicide rebellion, to " scenes of anarchy, scenes of 
rapine, scenes of bloodshed, of cruelty and barbarity, 
hitherto unknown to the world," and the British Conven- 
tion, " by showing a wish to adopt this model," was aiming 
at the same results. 

The trials were as unjust as those of Muir and Palmer. 
Braxfield, owing to the exasperating insolence of Margarot, 
excelled even his former conduct. Margarot and Gerrald 
both asserted in open court that he had pre- judged them by 
venting the opinion, at a private dinner-party, that the 
members of the British Convention deserved whipping as 
well as transportation, and that " the mob would be the 
better for the spilling of a little blood." " For the judicial 
spirit of this court," says Cockburn, we must go back to 

^ State Triatsy xxiu. 815. For the impression produced on Beattie bf 
Aberdeen, v. M. Forbes, Beattie and His Friends^ 282. Skirving averred 
that such terms were used as a mark of contempt " by holding up such 
empty bugbears to the deluded as nurses do to children to frighten them 
to sleep." State Trials^ xxiii. 579. Gerrald said that one of the secretaries, 
George Ross, had inserted them without his knowledge. Ibid. 984. In 
Kay, Orig. Portraits^ ii. 177, M. C. Brown, the Sheffield delegate, is 
credited with suggesting the obnoxious phraseology. 


the days of Lauderdale and DalzelL" ^ Such cruelty created 
a deep and lasting impression at home. Margarot became 
the hero of the populace. His friends escorted him from the 
Black Bull Inn, in the Grassmarket, to the court room, 
bearing a Tree of Liberty, shaped like the letter M,'' with 
a scroll inscribed, Liberty, Virtue, Reason, Justice and 
Truth." 2 Thomas Campbell, the poet, then in his sixteenth 
year, tramped from Glasgow to Edinburgh to be present at 
Gerrald's trial. " By heavens, sir, that is a great man," 
he remarked to a stranger beside him as Gerrald closed his 
defence. " Yes, sir," was the answer, " he is not only a great 
man himself, but he makes every other man feel great who 
listens to him." ^ ** It was an era in my life," wrote the 
poet afterwards. In England, all the democratic societies 
passed resolutions of sympathy with the " martyrs," the 
London Corresponding Society ordering one hundred thou- 
sand copies of Margarot's indictment to be printed.* Southey, 
then an ardent republican, begged the " exiled patriots " 
to accept " one Briton's grateful song." ^ In other quarters 
the action of the authorities in Scotland was viewed 
with approval. " You get great credit here for your 
attack on the Convention," Dundas wrote from London 
to his nephew on December 11. "I desired Nepean to send 
you a perusal of the King's note to me on the subject." ^ 

^ Memorials^ 88. Cf. The Defence of Joseph Gerrald . . . to which are 
added Parallel Passages between the Speeches of Lord Chief Justice 
Jeffries in the case of Algernon Sydney^ and of the Lord Chief Justice 
Clerk in the trial of Joseph Gerrald. Corrected by himself. Lond. 1794. 

Scot. Corr. vol. x. Jan. 13 and 15 ; Scot. Reg. i. 145-6; Moniteur^ 
Jan. 26, and Feb. i, 1794 ; Cockburn, Exam, of Trials for Sedn. ii. 23. 

^ W. Beattie, Life and Letters of Thomas Campbell^ i. 85-8. 

■* E. Smith, Story of the E?tglish Jacobi7is^ 92 ; Place Coll. of Newspaper 
Cuttings^ vol. xxxvi. Brit. Mus. 

^ Place Coll. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. f. 432. 

* G. W. T. Omond, Amis ton Memoirs^ 240. 




The Manchester Church and King Club toasted " The Lord 
Advocate and the Court of Justiciary in Scotland." ^ 
No series of trials in Scottish history ever created such 
world-wide interest. In America they provided fresh 
material for the discussion which Muir's case had pro- 
voked. ^ The French press devoted ample space to the 
British Convention and the subsequent prosecutions.^ 
The Government itself took action. The Committee of 
Public Safety ordered the French Admiralty, to intercept, 
if possible, the vessel bearing Margarot and his companions 
into exile.* 

Few of the Scottish societies survived the dispersion of 
the British Convention. In Edinburgh, where the year 
before twenty societies of the Friends of the People had 
met, it was now difficult to find one.^ The Stirling 
reformers ceased to meet except in private gatherings.^ 
The Glasgow Association adopted the terms " citizens," 
" divisions," and sections," thereby offending many of 

1 Trial of Walker of Manchester, State Trials^ xxiii. 11 16. 

2 The Trial of Joseph Gerrald^ New York, 1794. It has an engraving 
of Gerrald as a frontispiece, with the motto, " Omne solum forti patria." 
V. also W. Cobbett, Observations on the Emigration of Dr. Priestley, 
Phila. 1796. 

^ Moniteur, Dec. 1793 — April, lyc)^^ passim. 

** " Copie de I'Arrete du Comite du Salut-public du 30® pluviose, an 
2^ de la Republique, une et indivisible. Le Comite du Salut-public 
conformement aux principes de la constitution qui offre un asile en France 
aux hommes persecutes pour la cause de la liberte ; arrete que le Ministre 
de la Marine prendra toutes les mesures necessaires pour delivrer Muir, 
Palmer, et Margarot et intercepter le vaisseau qui les conduit en exil. 
Signe au registre : St. Just, B. Barere, Jeanbon St. Andre, C. A. Prieur, 
R. Lindet, Carnot, Collot d'Herbois, Billaud-Varenne. Pour copie con- 
forme." Archives, French Foreign Office, Correspondance Politique 
{A7tgleterre\ No. 588, f. 139. 

° W. Scot to H. Dundas, Jan. 24, 1794, Scot. Corr. vol. x. 

* Declaration of J. Forrest, surgeon, Stirling, June 19, 1794, ibid. 
vol. xi. 


its members, and sank into insignificance.^ While the 
Dundee Friends of the Constitution had refused to send 
delegates to the British Convention, ^ the Friends of Liberty 
in the same town carried out its instructions, as did also the 
Perth Society.^ In the country districts, such as Strathaven, 
the numbers of the Friends of the People were sadly thinned 
by local prosecutions.* Yet below the surface discontent 
was rife. Thomas the Rhymer's prophecy regarding 1794 : 

" A mild winter, a cold spring, 
A bloody summer, and no king " 

was on many lips.^ The seditious spirit was said "to be 
reviving " in the west, and barracks were erected to overawe 
the malcontents.^ Occasional disturbances, such as a riot 
in the Edinburgh theatre, revealed the latent irritation. 
In April, a play entitled The Royal Martyr was staged,^ and 
the public was invited to compare " the similarity of circum- 
stances which attended the two kings [Charles I. and Louis 
XVI.] ... a proper lesson at this juncture to be held out 
to warn mankind from stepping out of the paths of virtue 
and religion." ^ Such an advertisement was a challenge to 
the Democrats who mustered in force. Cries for Qa 
ira," " The Sow's Tail to Geordie," and God save the 
People," drowned the strains of " God save the King " ; 

^Declaration of J. Sinclair, Reedmaker, Glasgow, June 11, 1794, ibid. 

2 Letter of Rev. Neil Douglas in An Address to the Judges and Jury., 
Glasgow, 1817. 

^Declaration of G. Mealmaker, Weaver, Dundee, June 18, 1794, Scot. 
Corr. vol. xi. 

State Trials., xxiii. 1255. 

^ Report of J. B., Jan. 24, 1794, Scot. Corr. vol. x. 

^ Lord Provost Hamilton to Henry Dundas, Jan. 19, 1794, ibid.; H. 
Dundas to Ld. Adv., Feb. 8, 1794. Entry Books, vol. i. 

7 Alex. Fyfe, The Royal Martyr, Lond. 1709. 

8 Cal. Mer. April 5, 1794. 


and in the fight which ensued the denizens of the gallery 
claimed the victory. ^ 

To cope with the prevailing unrest, Dundas, in March, 
laid before the king a proposal to appoint Lords-lieutenant 
and Sheriffs Principal in Scotland, and by May the scheme 
was in full working order. ^ One of their duties was to make 
arrangements for the defence of the country against invasion.^ 
As this was considered to have been secured two years before 
by the establishment of Fencible Corps (troops raised for 
service in Great Britain only), special emphasis was laid on 
that part of their instructions which dealt with " internal 
tranquillity." For this purpose the Lords-lieutenant were 
to organise into companies those who offered themselves 
as Volunteers. Care was to be taken that no one likely to 
enlist in the army or navy was enrolled, and all were to be 
men of known loyalty to His Majesty's Government. Suit- 
able individuals, of the same unimpeachable principles, were 
to be nominated deputy-lieutenants, and they were " to 

1 Report of J. B., April i8, 1794, Scot. Corr. vol. x. ; State 
Trials^ xxiv. 82, 83. Scott took part in the fray, Lockhart, Life of 
Scott, ch. vii. For an account of a similar disturbance at Dumfries in 
October, 1792, in which Burns was implicated, v. Chambers's Life and 
Work of Burns, ed. W. Wallace, iii. 384. The Last Days and Execution 
of Louis XVI. was acted at Musselburgh in 1793, Philo-Scotus, Remini- 
scences of a Scottish Gentleman, 31. In June of the same year the 
Dublin Theatre Royal Company produced Democratic Rage or Louis 
the Unfortunate, Irish Corr. P.R.O. vol. xliv. Cf Dr. John Moore's 
description of the contemporary French stage : " Kings and princes are 
represented as rapacious, voluptuous, and tyrannical ; nobility as frivolous 
and unfeeling, fawning to the sovereign and insolent to their fellow 
subjects ; priests as hypocritical, artful and wicked. To inspire a hatred 
to monarchical government and a love of republicanism is one great object 
of almost every new piece." foumal (Nov. 18, 1792), 392-3 ; v. alsoW. T. 
Wolfe Tone, Life of Wolfe Tone, ii. 11. 

2 Henry Dundas to the King, March 6, 1794, Scot. Corr. vol. x. 
Lords lieutenant had been appointed after the 'Forty-Five in April, 1746, 
Pelham Corr. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 33049. Probably the office had 
fallen into abeyance. 

^ Draft Circular to Lords-lieutenant, ibid. May 14, 1794. 


inform themselves respecting the dispositions of those Hving 
in their districts," and to prepare Hsts of such as were wilhng 
to assist the civil magistrate in quelling tumults or illegal 

In England, the harsh treatment of the members of the 
British Convention had led to emphatic protests from the 
" Jacobins," as their enemies called them. In January, 
the London Corresponding Society resolved to call another 
convention should the Government proceed to further repres- 
sive measures. After communicating with the Constitutional 
Information Society, it held an open-air meeting on April 
24, 1794, at Chalk Farm, London, when a joint-committee 
was appointed to take the necessary steps. Thereupon the 
Government decided to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, 
and to justify this momentous step, a secret committee of 
both Houses of Parliament was elected by ballot on May 15 
to examine certain papers of the Corresponding and Consti- 
tutional Information Societies, whose prominent members 
had been arrested some days before. On the presentation of 
the first report, Pitt brought in a Bill to suspend the Habeas 
Corpus Act, and it became law on May 23. Subsequently 
a second report was presented by the Committee of the 
Commons, and two by that of the Lords. ^ 

These committees, in spite of the ballot, consisted entirely 
of supporters of the Ministry. It would be futile, therefore, 
to look in the reports for an impartial account of the aims 
of the Democrats. The papers disclosed little that was not 
already known to the public — intemperate resolutions, 
addresses to the French Convention, and the minutes of 
the British Convention. But the second report appeared 
to substantiate the assertions made in the first, that an 
armed insurrection had been planned. It contained the 
following startling intelligence, communicated by Henry 
^ The reports are printed in Pari, Hist. xxxi. 



Dundas in a series of letters to Pitt during the investigations 
of the committee. While a search for embezzled goods was 
being made in Edinburgh, twelve pike or spear heads had 
been discovered in the house of a certain Robert Watt and 
some twenty more in the smithy of a man named Orrock. 
These had been made to the order of the Committee of Ways 
and Means of the late British Convention. Though orders 
had been received for the weapons from the west, their 
manufacture was confined to the Capital, where the Friends 
of the People had hatched a regular conspiracy to seize 
the authorities, the castle, the banks, and the public offices, 
and set up a provisional government. Attempts had been 
made to incite the troops to mutiny. In Paisley the intention 
to arm and hold nightly meetings had been ascertained. 
A meeting of several hundreds of the townsfolk had elected 
a citizen president, and passed resolutions in favour of the 
assembling of another convention to redress all grievances. 

In connection with this conspiracy, numerous arrests 
were made, and in August and September, Robert Watt and 
David Downie were brought to trial on a charge of high 
treason. 1 This grave indictment brought about a much 
needed change in the bench. Since 1709, the Court of 
Justiciary in Scotland had exercised a jurisdiction, according 
to the forms of English law, in trials for high treason. ^ This 
Act of Queen Anne likewise authorised the sovereign to 
issue a special commission of Oyer and Terminer in such 
cases. The Lord Advocate was extremely anxious that the 
latter procedure should be adopted. " Entre nous," he 
writes to his uncle on June 20, " I would prefer a commission 
were it only for this reason, that the President or Chief Baron 
would, in that way, fall to preside in place of the violent 

^ Sfafe Trials, xxiii. xxiv. 

2R. to H. Dundas, June 21, 1794, Scol. Corr. vol. xi. He cites the 
trials of 1748 and 1749. 


and intemperate gentleman who sits in the Justiciary, and 
whose present state of health and spirits is such as to afford 
no chance of his being more soberly inclined in his demean- 
our than he was last winter." ^ Henry Dundas agreed, and 
for the first time since the prosecutions began, the prisoners 
had a fair trial. 

The evidence of the witnesses considerably modified the 
account of the conspiracy given in the second report of the 
Committee of Secrecy, where it was stated to be part of a 
far-reaching scheme originating with the London Correspond- 
ing Society. When the British Convention was dispersed, a 
few of the members and other sympathisers in Edinburgh, 
to the number of about one hundred, continued to meet 
in a school-room in Simon Square. Of this society, Robert 
Watt, the first spy to be employed by the Lord Advocate 
at the beginning of the political excitement, became the 
leading spirit. ^ Under his guidance, it drew up a new set of 
rules, printed as " Fundamental Principles.'' According to 
these regulations a Committee of Union was appointed. 
This body, consisting of delegates from four surviving 
societies in Edinburgh and the neighbourhood, elected on 
March 5 a permanent secret committee of seven — the Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means. Watt was on both of these, 
and thus the control of the whole policy and funds of the 
society fell into his hands.^ In April, circulars were received 
from the secretary of the London Corresponding Society 
asking the Scottish Friends of the People to take part in 
another convention. After despatching these to Perth, 

^i.e. Braxfield. R. to H. Dundas, June 21, 1794, Scot. Corr. vol. xi. 
2 V. ante^ ch. v. p. 89. 

2 J. B.'s report, April 19, 1794, Scot. Corr. vol. x. : "The Simon 
Square meeting last night was as crowded as ever. . . . The Fundamental 
Principles were discussed. ... In several parts the Committee of Union 
and of Ways and Means were thought to arrogate too much power to 



Paisley, Strathaven, and Dundee, the Committee of Ways 
and Means met to choose a delegate. By this time two of its 
members had prudently withdrawn, and to the remaining 
five Watt disclosed his nefarious schemes. On his own 
initiative, he then sent John Fairley and other " collectors " 
to various parts of Scotland, to ascertain the sentiments '* 
of the Friends of the People ; but, judging from Fairley 
report, they would have nothing to do with the violence 
which was vaguely hinted at. Self-deluded as to the amount 
of support to be expected. Watt then gave instructions for 
the manufacture of pikes and halberts, but his plans were 
discovered before fifty had been made. Two months later 
the same evidence was largely used in the trial of Hardy, 
the secretary of the London Corresponding Society,^ but the 
Lord Chief Justice in summing up declared that he 
did not see anything that made it probable that Hardy, 
personally, was concerned in this part of the conspiracy, 
or that he knew anything about it." ^ Reduced to its true 
proportions, the proposed insurrection is to be regarded as 
the work of Robert Watt. Since July, 1793, his services as a 
spy had been dispensed with, and he probably hoped, should 
his plans prove successful, to find a readier means of filling 
his purse. He was found guilty, and hanged at the Tolbooth 
of Edinburgh. His body was then cut down and laid on a 
table. The head was cut off, the executioner exclaiming 

1 Those arrested with Watt turned king's evidence, and were ultimately 
pardoned. " Most of my seditious friends are safely arrived and will be 
liberated under the Privy Council warrant this day or to-morrow. I wish 
to God you had kept them with you." Letter of Lord Advocate, Dec. 19^ 
1794, Scot. Corr. vol. xi. 

State Trials^ xxiv. 1347. Regarding Watt, Hardy wrote to Francis 
Place : " I had no knowledge of, nor had I any communication with him 
whatever." "The London Corresponding Society as a Society," says 
Place, " never gave any countenance to the use of such instruments [the 
pikes]." Place Coll. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27817, f. 127. Memoir of 
Hardy ^ Append, p. 119. 



as he held it up to view, " This is the head of a traitor." ^ 
Downie, the treasurer of the society, was pardoned, to the 
regret of the Lord Advocate, who wrote : "I am convinced 
from anything I have heard since my return here, that the 
respite to Downie will be generally disapproved, but after 
the report of the President it was impossible for you to act 
other ways." ^ 

The supporters of the Government, however actuated 
by genuine feelings of alarm, did not fail to profit by the 
crisis. " Everything," says Cockburn, speaking of the 
Reign of Terror, " rung and was connected with the Revolu- 
tion in France. . . . Everything, not this or that thing, 
but literally everything, was soaked in this one event." ^ 
The Tories had confidently affirmed that the reformers were 
but revolutionaries masquerading in disguise. Watt's plot 
was now triumphantly cited as a conclusive proof, and a 
host of pamphleteers drove the lesson home.* " The miseries 
and dissensions by which that city was ruined," said one in 
a Narrative describing the Siege of Lyons, " arose in a manner 
so very like to that in which the seditious in Great Britain 
have lately attempted to introduce confusion, dissension, 
and treasonable insurrection in some of our great towns, 
that this narrative will be found to afford a most awful and 
instructive lesson for our present use." Thousands rushed 
to join the Volunteers, so that by July, 1796, forty-one 

^ Omond, Lives of the Lord Advocates of Scotland^ ii. 204. 
2R. to H. Dundas, Oct. 13, 1794, Scot. Corr. vol. xi. 
^ Meinorials^ 70. 

* Literary men who held Government posts were expected to lend their 
aid. Some years afterwards, Gillies, who succeeded Principal Robertson 
as Historiographer Royal for Scotland, claimed an increase of salary. 
He had published, by request, an edition of Aristotle's Politics^ "as pecu- 
liarly calculated to counteract the wild and dangerous principles afloat," 
and thus had been unable to undertake more profitable labours. Banks 
Corr. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 33982, f. 294. 


districts in Scotland had either a regiment or a company.^ 
Though a haunting fear of invasion had existed since the 
outbreak of the war with France, it was rather the expected 
blow from the " accursed dagger of domestic treachery 
that now swelled the ranks. In the articles of the Edinburgh 
Volunteers, nothing was said of serving against a foreign 
foe ; but the members formally reprobated the doctrine of 
universal suffrage and Jacobin political principles, dis- 
approved of the Friends of the People and the British Con- 
vention, and obliged themselves to prevent such societies 
being formed and such meetings being held in the future.^ 
For those who now prudently renounced their democratic 
zeal, the uniform of Windsor blue was a conspicuous sign 
of repentance. Burns, like many others threatened with 
the loss of their post, sought thus to reinstate himself 
in the good graces of his employers.^ Those who clung 
stubbornly to their opinions were distinguished, like the 
Roundheads of old, by having their hair closely cropped. 
Attired in trousers and gaiters, of a stuff known as 
" rap rascal," these " Crappies " were as obnoxious to 
Government Men who stuck " to the constitution and to 
buckles,'' as the Black Nebs " who refused to join the 

^ List of Officers of Militia and Volunteers^ War Office^ loth July, 1796. 
P.R.O. Library. 

^ A View of the Estab. of the Corps of Royal Edin. Volunteers, June 15, 
1795. Edin. 1795. 735 were on the roll. At least 50 per cent, of these 
were connected with the law courts. 

^Chambers's Life of Bursts, ed. Wallace, iii. 375, iv. 206 et seq.\ 
Chambers's Hist, of Peebles, 270. 

^ Cockburn, Memorials, 60. Philo-Scotus, Reminiscences of a Scottish 
Gentlemait, 22. Even a French refugee in Edinburgh, M. de Latocnaye, 
was regarded with suspicion because he refused to join, and he was 
reproached with " having the abomination " of eating with equal relish 
the dinners of Whigs or of Tories. Promenade d'un Frangais dans 
rirlande, Dublin, 1797, p. 260. 


Cockburn's account of the intolerance pervading all ranks 
of society is amply confirmed from other sources. Trades- 
men of Jacobinical " sympathies had their credit stopped 
at the bank.i Housewives refused to buy unless from shop- 
keepers of approved loyalty. Even Nasmyth, who could 
ill conceal his politics, gave up painting the portraits of 
Tory clients to devote himself to those landscape studies 
which had such an important influence on the evolution of 
Scottish art. 2 Manufacturers did not scruple to dismiss 
workmen suspected of disloyal opinions. Combinations or 
strikes were put down with a ruthless hand,^ and philan- 
thropic work was regarded with distrust. Archibald 
Fletcher's wife, who was credited with guillotining hens in 
her backyard, in order to be prepared for higher game when 
the time came, with the greatest difficulty obtained official 
permission to establish a Female Benefit Society.* Educa- 
tion was considered a dubious advantage for the lower 
classes, and as late as 1812 a Lancastrian school, founded by 
the Edinburgh Whigs, had to be erected on the Calton Hill, 
" where it was the fashion to stow away everything that 
was too abominable to be tolerated elsewhere.'' ^ Among the 
professional classes there were a few who refused to give up 
their convictions. In Glasgow, though Reid bowed to the 

a letter to the Lord Advocate in 1797 (?) Col. Johnstone warns him 
that the Bank agent at Dunfermline had countenanced an opposition 
meeting. " It will be of consequence to have this man dismissed from 
the employment he holds." Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 501. Sir Wm. 
Forbes' bank in Edinburgh refused to cash the drafts remitted by Hardy 
through the London banks to Margarot and Gerrald. Place Coll. Brit. 
Mils. Add. MSS. 27814, f. 63. 

^ J. L. Caw, Scottish Painting Past and Present^ 48. 

3 A. Fergusson, Henry Erskine^ 401. 

^ Autobiography^ 70, 86. Rule 20 of the Regulations of the Canongate 
Society (Edin. 1798) enacted that "any member guilty of attending any 
seditious or illegal meeting should be expelled." 

^ Cockburn, Memorials^ 233. 


stonn,^ Professor Millar was venerated by a band of ardent 
disciples, one of whom was Thomas Campbell, the future 
poet-laureate of the Whigs. ^ Even in St. Andrews Uni- 
versity, where the influence of Henry Dundas, its Chancellor, 
was paramount, Dr. James Brown was the inspirer of such 
youthful enthusiasts as Thomas Chalmers and John Leslie, 
who fed their minds on Godwin's Political Justice and aired 
their opinions in the Political Society The leading figure 
in the academic world was Dugald Stewart, the fame of 
whose teaching attracted students from England and abroad. 
Yet as an ardent Whig he was a marked man, whom " not 
a few hoped to catch in dangerous propositions." * Jeffrey, 
whose father had forbidden him to attend Millar's lectures 
in Glasgow, found, on his return from Oxford, the same 
veto put on Dugald Stewart's ; ^ and he had to be content 
with the congenial company of the professor's admirers in 
the Speculative Society, which, in like manner, was looked 
upon as a hotbed of Whiggery and sedition.^ 

The full weight of public disapproval, however, was felt 
in legal circles. Most of the leading Whigs were advo- 
cates. " Even the Whig lawyers who had secured their 
footing at the Bar . . . had hard enough work to keep 
their places," says Cockburn.^ There being no juries 

^ V. Sketch of the Career of the late Thouias Reid, . . . with 

Observations on the Danger of Political Innovation^ frojn a Discourse 
delivered 07i Nov. 29, 1 794, by Dr. Reid before the Literary Society in Glasgow 
College. Glasgow, 1796. A. Campbell Fraser, Thomas Reid^ 11 5-6. 

2 W. Beattie, Life and Letters of Thomas Campbell^ i. 206. 

^W. Hanna, Memoirs of Thomas Chalmers^ Edin. 1863, i. 11, 16. 

* Cockburn, Mefnorials, 153-4. ^ Cockburn, Life offeffrey^ \. 52, 

' Cockburn, Memorials., 65 ; Atkinson and Jackson, Brougham and His 
Early Friends^ i. 1 1 ; Hist, of the Speculative Society., 28, 29, 38. Three 
members of the society were sentenced to be reprimanded by the Principal 
of the University "for disseminating French principles and sedition." 
Life and Ti7nes of Henry ^ Lord Brougham^ written by himself, i. 53. 

Memorials^ 80. 



in civil cases," writes Mrs. Fletcher, " it was supposed 
that the judges would not decide in favour of any 
litigant who employed Whig lawyers . . . We were often 
at that time reduced to our last guinea." ^ The case of 
the younger men, such as Jeffrey, Millar, Cranstoun, Thomson, 
Brougham, and Horner, seemed almost hopeless. Millar, 
who had been a prominent Friend of the People in 1792, 
retired to America, where he died shortly afterwards. 2 
Cranstoun refused to subscribe a written test of political 
orthodoxy, and found it advisable to serve for a time as 
an officer of a Fencible Corps in Ireland.^ Jeffrey saw so 
little prospect of success that he thought of settling in 
London. The fate of Thomas Muir, they were often re- 
minded, was intended as a warning to his brother advocates, 
and in 1796, an opportunity occurred of making another 
striking example. 

Though all open democratic activity had died down in 
Scotland, the condition of the poorer classes was such as 
to lead to frequent disturbances. A succession of bad 
harvests created such a dearth in Great Britain that the 
price of corn, which in 1792 had been 43s. a quarter, rose to 
75s. In 1795, one-eighth of the population of Edinburgh, 
according to Cockburn's estimate, had to be fed by charity.* 
The cost of living rose in proportion. The Government, 
while upholding the corn laws, tried to mitigate their evil 
effects.^ For a certain period all exportation was pro- 

Autobiography^ 66. Ibid. 71. 

3 Cockburn, Memorials, 80. " Deed, Mr. George, ye wad be muckle 
the better o' being whuppit," said Lord Swinton, whom he consulted about 
joining the Austrian army, where, it was said, officers were liable to be 
flogged. Metnorials (1909 edn.), 104, fn. 

^ Memorials, 63. 

^ " It does not occur to me that any step could with propriety be taken 
to prevent the legal exportation of grain coastways to and from any part 
of the kingdom. The farmer and the landholder might too with justice 



hibited, and importation was allowed free of duty.^ Local 
dues were remitted by the magistrates, and public subscrip- 
tions were opened to buy grain in order to re-sell at a 
cheaper rate. Yet discontent was rife, and the people 
were further incensed by the ever-increasing load of 
taxation and the enforcement of impress warrants. Riots 
broke out in Dundee and other places, and would have 
been more numerous but for the high rate of wages in 
Glasgow and the west.^ 

In England the same conditions prevailed. Prospects of 
peace were therefore eagerly discussed in Parliament and 
in the press. On October 26, 1795, a huge meeting was 
held at Copenhagen Fields, Mary-le-bone, under the auspices 
of the London Corresponding Society, which had resumed its 
activities. Resolutions were passed demanding peace, Parlia- 
mentary reform, and the dismissal of Ministers. Three 
days later a mob pelted the carriage of the King on his way 
to open Parliament. Cries of " Bread ! " Peace ! " ''No 
Pitt ! " rose on every side. Repressive measures were at 
once proposed by the Government. Two Bills were intro- 
duced ; one, the Treason Bill, extended the law of treason 
to include mere words, spoken or written ; the other — to 
prevent seditious meetings — forbade all political assemblies 
unless previously notified to the authorities, powers being 

complain of their property being subjected to the pleasure of the Baker 
and Corn Dealer." Ld. Adv. to J. King (an official of the Home Office), 
Feb. 7, 1795, Scot Corr. vol. xii. Cf. letter of J. Craig to Ld. Adv. : " I 
gave it as my opinion that however admirable the measure might be at a 
proper period, surely the present was the most unseasonable time for 
proposing or making any change in the Corn Law, as it would only tend 
to waken the jealousy of the lower class of people, and create a contention 
or misunderstanding between them and the said proprietors which above 
all things at this time should be avoided." He advised importation of 
grain at the lowest duty till the beginning of the following July. Ibid. 

^ Feb. 20, 1795, Entry Books {Scot.\ vol. i. 

Scot. Corr. vol. xiii. Glasgow, March 14, 1796. 


granted to the Justices to dissolve such a gathering without 
reading the Riot Act. These Bills caused wide-spread 
indignation. Whigs and Democrats united to denounce 
such an invasion of the liberty of the subject. Fox asserted 
that the " pretended law of Scotland regarding sedition 
was being thus introduced into England, while Sheridan 
endeavoured to limit the discretionary power of the Scottish 
judges to the punishment laid down in the new Bill. Both 
parties made strenuous efforts to prove that their views were 
supported by the people at large. Dundas flooded the 
House with petitions from Scottish town councils and other 
corporate bodies, the value of which, as expressions of public 
opinion, Thomas Erskine and Colonel Macleod duly exposed. 
Against the Bills, the Glasgow petition was signed by 10,000 
inhabitants ; that from Paisley by 2500. On November 
28, Henry Erskine presided at a meeting in Edinburgh, which 
resulted in a petition containing 8000 signatures. It was 
laid before the House of Commons on December 10, by 
Thomas Erskine, who animadverted on the proceedings that 
were being taken against his brother. Alarmed by the 
growing opposition, the Edinburgh supporters of the Govern- 
ment had hastened to take action. In 1785, Henry Erskine, 
though a Whig, had been elected to the dignified position 
of Dean of the Faculty of Advocates. Yet two days after 
the meeting against the proposed Bills, eight of their number 
had signified their intention of opposing his re-election, on 
the ground that his action had compromised the loyalty 
of the Faculty. 1 Erskine's refusal to join the Friends of 

^"We are all, except Dr. Adamson, who never speaks of the subject, 
perfectly sound in relation to the Dean's conduct. I cannot conceive a 
greater degradation for a man of family, of abilities, and at the head of 
a respectable profession, than to stand forth as the gatherer and instigator 
of a mob assembled to judge of a Bill intended to prevent the evils arising 
from such mobs. The Faculty has shown a becoming spirit ; and what- 
ever he may talk of persecution for opinions, and of attachment to 



the People now stood him in Httle stead, and on January 
12, 1796, he was deposed from office by a majority of ninety- 
five as an additional warning to Whig lawyers of the danger 
of attending public meetings " on the wrong side." ^ But 
such an act had an unlooked-for result. An even closer 
sympathy now bound together his thirty-eight supporters, 
and " The Independence of the Scottish Bar " became one 
of the rallying cries of the young Whig party. 

Administration, I have no doubt the country feels that he suffers 
deservedly, not for his opinions, but for his conduct." Rev. Geo. Hill 
to Dr. Carlyle, St. Andrews, Jan. 5, 1796. Edin. Univ. MSS. Letters 
of Dr. Carlyle^ No. 79. 

^ The Hist, of Two Acts, Lond. 1796, gives a full account of the 
Parliamentary debates, the petitions, and the particulars of Erskine's 
deposition. V. also A. Fergusson, Henry Erskine, Append. ; Cockburn, 
Memorials, 81. 



The hopes of peace entertained in 1795 were doomed to 
disappointment, and, with the advent of the Directory to 
power in November, an invasion of the British Isles was at 
last seriously contemplated in France. Ever since the 
relations with Great Britain had become strained, the 
chances of the success of such a project had been tentatively 
discussed, and the favourable symptoms in the political 
conditions of England, Scotland, and Ireland, carefully 
noted. The rise of the British democratic societies seemed 
at first to preclude the very possibility of war. They would 
form, it was supposed, a means of communication between 
the two peoples ; the new ideas would triumph on both 
sides of the Channel, and fraternity would be established 
between sister republics. Thus in the Jacobin Club in 
August, 1792, Oswald, a native of Edinburgh, whose presence 
gave a piquancy to its deliberations which was duly appre- 
ciated in his native land, showed how " the glorious loth of 
August " had been misrepresented by the Ministerialist 
press in England. He proposed that a circular should be 
sent to all the popular societies in England, Scotland, and 
Ireland, giving a true account of the facts. ^ Condorcet, in 

^Aulard, Societe des Jacobins^ iv. 220. A circular was accordingly 
drawn up. Ibid. 356-9. On June 4, Oswald had maintained that the 
neutrality declared by the King of England was due to the firmness of 



an article in the Chronique de Paris of November 23, 1792, 
drew further attention to the importance of these clubs. 
" Popular societies," he wrote, " have been established in the 
three kingdoms. ... It is well known what a number of 
persons there are who think rightly, and daily enlighten the 
people of England whose opinions furnish useful subjects for 
disputation. This people, who at once fear and desire a 
revolution such as ours, will necessarily be drawn along by 
these courageous and enlightened persons who always deter- 
mine the first steps : the opening of the session of Parliament 
which approaches will infallibly become the occasion of 
reforms which are most urgent, such as those which regard 
the national representation. From thence to the establish- 
ment of a republic, the transitions will be less tedious, 
because the foundations of liberty have long existed in 
England." 1 

the English clubs, which had forced the Government to listen to reason. 
Ibid. iii. 653-4. The proceedings of the Jacobin Club were fully reported 
in the Scottish press ; v. Cal. Mer. Sept. 6, 1792, where Oswald's bio- 
graphy is given. The Glasgow Courier., Sept. 8, 1792, says : " When last in 
Edinburgh, Oswald made a conspicuous figure in the Pantheon debating 
society." V. also Hist. MSS. Co7n. Reports^ Dropmore MSS. ii. 309, and 
Lichtenberger, Le Socialisme Utopigue^ chap, viii, : John Oswald, Ecossais, 
Jacobin, et Socialiste. 

A Collection of Addresses of Eftg. Clubs to the Nat. Convention^ 2nd 
edn. Lond. 1793, p. 22. The same ideas are expressed in the following 
report : " Malgre I'influence du gouvernement, il existe en Angleterre des 
germes puissans de mecontentement et un parti assez fort pour nos 
principes ; ce parti est a la veille d'etre etouffe, mais nous pouvons 
augmenter sa vigueur. Ne nous flattons point : 1' Angleterre n'a point k 
present le desir de nous reconnaltre parcequ'elle craint que nous ne 
voulions propager nos principes chez elle. La demarche de nous faire la 
guerre est bardie ; car si elle ne trouve pas les moyens de la faire 
nationale, elle deviendra bientot une Republique elle-meme. Eh bien, 
negocions ; elle parait vouloir nous parler ; causons avec elle. Voyons 
I'avenir, flattons ses esperances, ne heurtons pas ses prejuges, et faisons 
trainer la chose en longueur pendant un mois ou deux, car pendant cet 
intervalle, la question de la reforme sera entamee au Parlement. Si les 
esprits ne sont pas occupes ailleurs, vous verrez cette reforme etre reelle- 
ment le commencement d'une revolution sdrieuse. Dejk I'Ecosse parait 


Such dreams were rudely dispelled by the outbreak of 
hostilities. " Never was there so feeble an opposition to 
the Government, and never was public opinion so unanimous 
for war with France," wrote an official in March, 1793.^ 
Yet in the British democrats, whose proceedings were fully 
reported in the newspapers, the French still professed to see 
a growing body of sympathisers, and, in the event of invasion, 
of possible allies. Thomas Muir, who was in Paris during the 
winter of 1793, wrote afterwards that he heard men whose 
names were unknown in his native land, declaring in the 
cafes, in the clubs, and even to Ministers, that England only 
awaited the descent of the French to welcome them with 
affection, and conjointly with them to destroy their detestable 
government, and establish a republic on the principles of 
the Rights of Man.^ Scotland and Ireland, it was thought, 
would be only too willing to profit by such an occurrence. 
" The English people," Kersaint had said, addressing the 
Convention in January, 1793, " like all conquerors, have long 
oppressed Scotland and Ireland ; but it should be noted that 
these two nations, always restive, and secretly in revolt 
against the injustice of the dominating race, have acquired 
at different epochs concessions which have engendered the 
hope of ultimately regaining their entire independence. . . . 
Since the Union, Scotland has been represented in Parlia- 
ment, but out of such proportion to its wealth, its extent, 
and its population, that it does not conceal the fact that it 

imbue de nos principes. Voyez k Dundee M. Dundas brule en effigie; 
voyez-y I'arbre de la liberte plante par le peuple ; voyez-le abattu dans la 
nuit par deux aristocrats, et voyez enfin le lendemain leurs maisons rasees 
par le peuple. Voilk vraiment qui designe une revolution prochaine." 
Archives, French Foreign Office, Meinoires et Documents {Angleterre\ 
53, f. 144. Vues sur la Situation Interieure de I'Angleterre et sur Sa 
Position envers la France. Dec. 12, 1792. 

^Aulard, Etudes et Leqons sur la Revolution Frangaise^ Paris, 1892- 
1907, 3® ser. 75. 

2 Correspondance Politique {Angleterre) 592, f. 161. 


is nothing but a dependent colony of the EngHsh Govern- 
ment. Yet the Scots know their rights and their strength : 
the principles developed by the French nation have there 
found zealous defenders who have been the first to merit 
the honour of being persecuted by the British Government ; 
but these persecutions have made proselytes, and nowhere 
is more joy caused by your victories than in Scotland, the 
principal towns of which have been illuminated to celebrate 
them." 1 

The reports of spies conveyed the same impression to 
official minds. In October, 1792, Citoyen Petry had been 
appointed agent de la marine et du commerce " in Scotland, 
and in this capacity had spent a few days in Glasgow. ^ 
The authorities, however, had had timely notice of his 
arrival, and he had been ordered to leave.^ The account of 
his visit, which he laid before the French Minister in March, 
1793, justified the opinion of the Sheriff of Glasgow that he 
" had come to Scotland with no good intentions." Petry 
described the enthusiasm for the Revolution evinced by the 
people in the west of Scotland, the subscription raised in 
Glasgow on behalf of the National Assembly, the rise of the 
Friends of the People, and of the counter constitutional 
associations. He explained the difficulty experienced by 
the latter in promoting loyal addresses, the spread of 
pamphlets defending the French Revolution, and the 
prosecution of their authors and printers. The death of 
Louis had further strengthened the Government, who had 
adroitly used the catastrophe to render the war popular. 
Yet it was long after other towns that Glasgow had voted 
bounties to seamen, for the manufacturers were adverse. 
" In a word," he sums up, " if Ministerial influence has 

^Moniteur^ Jan. 3, 1793 ; also published, London, 1793. 

2 Corr. Polit. {A?tgl.) 584, f. 16. 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. vii. Jan. 28, 29, Feb. 16, 1793. 



reduced to silence nearly all the societies for the rights of 
the people, the members of which they were composed are 
still alive. The slightest thing will awaken them from the 
state of lethargy they appear to be in. I even dare to state 
that, if success crowns the efforts of the Government against 
us, it will be obliged to obtain popularity for the consequent 
additional taxes by granting reform so often demanded, 
and then it can hardly be doubted that these changes will 
be but the beginning of many others." ^ Three months 
later, another spy. Colonel Oswald, an American, who had 
been sent to Ireland by Le Brun, returned with an even 
more optimistic report of his eight or ten days' sojourn in 
Scotland. The people were incensed against Pitt and 
Dundas. They were meditating a decisive blow, and though 
the time and the circumstances were not yet propitious, a 
foreign enemy would soon cause a revolution. ^ 

A month after Oswald's return, the Convention renewed 
the powers of the Committee of Public Safety, which entered 
at once on a more strenuous foreign policy. " The extermina- 
tion of England " became the subject of its most secret 
deliberations. In a document ascribed by Aulard to this 
period, two means of accomplishing this end were laid down. 

^ Corr. PoHt. {Angl.\ Supplement 21, f. 108. 

^ Ibid. 587, f. 167, June 11, 1793. Lecky, Hist, of Eng. vii. 2. In a 
report to the Ministre de la Marine, dated May 23, 1793, the writers state 
that, according to their instructions, they had distributed the address 
to the English sailors in the maritime towns and villages and in London. 
They then go on to describe the political situation in England and Scot- 
land : " Depuis plusieurs annees, les Ecossais se plaignent des abus qui 
se sont glisses dans leur gouvernement. Les memes dissensions pohtiques 
qui regnent en Irlande r^gnent aussi en Ecosse. lis viennent de 
demander le rappel du Test Act ... II s'est forme a Edimbourg une 
Convention, compos^e des deputes de divers societ^s d'Ecosse, sous le 
titre des Amis du Peuple. II y a ete arrete que la societe ne se dis- 
souderoit, et ne cesseroit ses sollicitations aupr^s du parlement, que quand 
il auroit acquiesce k sa demande." A list of the resolutions of the second 
Convention of the Friends of the People follows. Rapport et Observations 
donnees au citoyen Ministre de la Marine. Ibid. 587, f. 125. 


An endeavour was to be made to raise, in the British 
Parhament, a discussion regarding the Rights of Man, 
and at the same time negotiations were to be opened with 
the people of Ireland and Scotland by the offer of alliance 
should they revolt. ^ It was rumoured that the Committee 
had resolved, on December 14, to spare no expense in 
trying to raise an insurrection in these countries, so that, 
according to Robespierre, England would be forced either 
to withdraw from the coalition or drive Pitt from office. 
Barere, according to another Bulletin, stated in the Conven- 
tion that such a host of spies was being employed in 
England, Scotland, and Ireland, that the Minister, Forgues, 
would have been afraid of being accused of squandering 
the public money, had he not been certain of being able 
to prove the utility of each.^ One Jackson had been 
sent on a mission to the United Irishmen,^ but no 
secret agent seems to have been despatched to Scotland. 
The proceedings of the British Convention were possibly 
regarded as affording sufficient evidence of its intentions.* 

^ "La Politique ^^trangere du Comite du Salut Public," art. in La Revolu- 
tion Fran^aise, vol. xiv. (1888), p. 11 11. 

Dropmore MSS. ii. 480, 538 {Bulletins 5 and 14). 
^Lecky, Hist, of Eng. vii. 27. 

^ In the Moniteur, 10 nivose, an ii. (Dec. 30, 1793), five columns out of 
twelve are devoted to the British Convention. It was proposed in the 
Jacobin Club that a letter of sympathy should be written to the London 
Corresponding Society regarding the treatment of its delegates, but the 
motion was dropped. Moniteur, 6 pluviose, an ii. (Jan. 25, 1794). In 
Bulleti7t No. 5, dated Dec. 20, 1793 {Dropmore MSS. ii. 480), "Brower 
and Hastee " are said to have been the Scottish correspondents of Rabaut 
St. Etienne, who was executed on Dec. 3, as a Girondin. These were 
Brown and Hastie of the British Convention, for their names are so 
misspelt in the Moniteur (Dec. 30, 1793). Bulletin No. 8 {Dropmore 
MSS. ii. 514), it was reported that "their friends in Scotland" were 
asking from the Bishop of Autun, then supposed to be in Ireland, a loan 
of 120,000 francs to prevent the entire ruin of the work of "sieurs Brewer 
et Margarot," i.e. Brown and Margarot. But the Bulletins are so full of 
such palpable absurdities that they may be disregarded as statements of 
facts. In this case the source of information is shown by the misspellings. 


As Dorat-Cubieres expressed it in his Prophetie RepuUi- 
caine : ^ 

" Edimbourg ressaisit les droits sacres de rhomme, 
Edimbourg s'est levee : a sa puissante voix, 
Albion va bientot voir refleurir les lois, 
Et les Francois vainqueurs secondant son audace, 
Elle va des tyrans ex terminer la race." 2 

And it was in accordance with its declared policy that the 
Committee of Public Safety, as we have seen, took steps 
to rescue Muir, Margarot, and their companions.^ Disorders 
in France and negotiations for peace suspended more decisive 
action,* but the Directory, to which the government was 
entrusted in November, 1795, at once took up the project of 

This renewed vigour in the councils of the Republic 
coincided with the arrival in France of Wolfe Tone, charged 
with a message from the United Irishmen.^ Since the 

^ 17 nivose, an ii. (Jan. 6, 1794). A note is added here in the original : 
" D'apr^s la Convention Nationale qui s'est formee k Edimbourg, on ne 
peut guere douter qu'une grande revolution ne couve dans la Grande 
Bretagne et qu'elle ne soit bien voisine de son annee 1789." 

2 Cf. Ode aux Franqais sur leur Projet de Descente en Angle terre^ par 

P C , an xii. (1804) : 

" Qui ! Londres finira comme finit Ath^nes, 
Dejk de cet empire on voit flotter les renes," 
where the following note appears : " Plusieurs insurrections se sont deja 
manifestees en Irlande et en Elcosse : elles sont ordinairement d'un 
mauvais augure, et finissent par precipiter la decadence des Empires." 

^V. a7ite^ chap. vii. p. 146. On Sept. 12, 1797, Windham wrote to Lord 
Grenville that they should retaliate by saving Pichegru from exile in 
Guiana. Dropjnore MSS. iii. 374. 

^The project was not lost sight of Citoyen J. B. Andre, in a long 
memorial on England, dated 20 pluviose, an iii. (Feb. 8, 1795), which he 
laid before the Committee of Public Safety, after describing the oppres- 
sion in Scotland, summed up thus : " Tout fait resumer qu'elle repren- 
droit son ancienne independance si Ton aidoit k secouer le joug." 
Corr. Polit. {AngU) 588, f. 313. 

^ Lecky, Hist, of Eng. vii. ; E. Guillon, La France et Vlrlande pendant 
la Revolution^ passim. 


missions of Oswald and Jackson, this society had been com- 
pletely reorganised, had abandoned the advocacy of consti- 
tutional reform, and become definitely revolutionary. Tone 
laid a long memorial before the Directory, in which Ireland 
was represented as ready to welcome assistance from France. 
On the strength of this and other information, active prepara- 
tions were made for sending a force to Ireland. But Tone 
was apprehensive lest this expedition should only be part 
of a general scheme of invading Britain. In April, 1796, 
in conversation with Aherne, who was to be sent to Ireland, 
he learnt to his dismay " that there was something going 
on regarding Scotland." " My opinion is," was Tone's 
comment, " that nothing will ever be done there, unless we 
first begin in Ireland." A fortnight later, a French general 
asked his opinion of chouannising England. Tone replied that 
" perhaps in Scotland, which, however, he was not sure of, 
it might do, but in England never." ^ 

The Directory, however, wished to base their plans on 
more particular knowledge of these countries. As Delacroix 
pointed out to his colleagues, they were already acquainted 
with the troubles agitating England, Scotland, and above 
all, Ireland, and it was their duty to neglect nothing that 
would render them a source of profit to the Republic and of 
confusion to the most cruel of its enemies. Yet the fullest 
knowledge must be obtained of their extent and of the open 
or secret means of stimulating them. He proposed, therefore, 
that secret agents should be sent to England, Scotland, 
and Ireland, for this purpose. ^ The Directory concurred, 
and Citoyen Mengaudwas selected for this service in Scotland. 
Elaborate instructions were drawn up for his guidance. 
During his stay in London he was to make inquiries as to 

^W. T. Wolfe Tone, Life of Wolfe Tone, Washington, 1826, ii. 90, 99. 
Aherne, Tone notes, had already been employed in Scotland. 

2 Corr. Polit. {Angl.) 589, f. 241, 12 flor^al an iv. (April 30, 1796)- 



the state of the funds, pubHc opinion on the war, and other 
matters. He was then to proceed to Scotland, where he 
was to try to discover how far the discontent prevaiHng 
there might influence the actions of the people, and how far, 
should they be disposed to revolt, they would be willing to 
trust the French nation and take advantage of the efforts it 
would make on their behalf. After getting cautiously into 
touch with sympathisers, he was to question them as to 
their resources and the number of their supporters in the 
different classes of society. If they were not already in 
communication with the United Irishmen, he was to offer 
himself as an intermediary. He was also to find out in 
what ports and bays the Scottish revolutionaries would 
carry out their operations, so as to induce the French to 
show themselves. He was also to urge that persons 
enjoying the confidence of the people at large should 
be sent as delegates to France. These were to make 
their way with credentials to Hamburg, there to wait 
till the French Minister was informed of their arrival, 
when the necessary passports would be sent. Afterwards 
Mengaud was to cross to Ireland and make similar 
investigations. 1 

These plans of invading the British Isles were considerably 
modified after an interview with other envoys from the 
United Irishmen towards the end of the year. The expedi- 
tion was limited to Ireland, and under General Hoche, 
preparations were pushed rapidly forward. On December 
16, the flotilla sailed from Brest, only to return reduced in 
numbers in the following January without having landed 
a single troop. The Irish, contrary to all expectation, had 
not availed themselves of the opportunity, and this fact 
alone should have discredited the report of Mengaud, who 
arrived in Paris in July, " after running the greatest risks, 

^ Corr. Polit {Angl.) 589, f. 215, 18 germinal, an iv. (April 6, 1796). 


and having escaped as if by a miracle." ^ But the Directory 
was occupied with another project of invasion, and formally 
expressed satisfaction with his conduct. ^ His statement is 
couched in such general terms as to lead one to suspect 
that he never quitted London, though he avers that he 
" saw both Edinburgh and Glasgow." The Scots, he found, 
were more disposed to a revolution than the English, and 
the Irish to a still greater degree. This feeling, which had 
existed since the Union of England and Scotland and the 
conquest of Ireland, could be used to excite a civil war. 
He had not been able to accomplish much, as he had been 
recognised in London, but he had learnt enough to be per- 
suaded that the policy of the Directory, strengthened by 
the triumphs of the French, would overthrow Great Britain 
sooner than was supposed.^ 

The new expedition was organised by the Dutch. But 
contrary winds prevented the sailing of the fleet at the 
very moment when the mutiny at the Nore rendered success 
probable. ''All is ready," Tone noted in his diary on July 
17, " and nothing is wanting but a fair wind." * By the 
time the weather had changed, the British fleet, restored to 
order, was mustered in force under Admiral Duncan at the 
mouth of the Texel. Every day strengthened Duncan's 
position, and the Dutch had to change their plans. Various 
alternative schemes were discussed. According to one, the 
fleet was to issue forth to fight. If the action was successful, 
fifty thousand men were to be sent to Scotland " in every- 
thing that would swim." After Edinburgh and Glasgow 

1 Corr. Polit. {A7tgL) 591, f. 168, 25 messidor, an v. (July 12, 1797). 
^Ibid. f. 218. 

^ Corr. Polit. {Angl.) 591, f. 174 et seq. Yet Nettement had written 
from London to Delacroix in July, 1796: "On se fait illusion, citoyen 
Ministre, lorsqu'on pense que nous trouverions ici des amis puissans. 
L'Ecosse est parfaitement tranquille." Ibid. 589, f. 330. 

'^Tone, op. cit. ii. 421. 



had been seized, the invaders were to maintain themselves 
along the line of the canal between Falkirk and Dumbarton. 
The vessels in the Clyde were then to be collected, so as to 
enable them to pass over into Ireland, which, by that time, 
would probably be denuded of troops for the defence of 
England. A later idea was to land all the Dutch soldiers 
in order to give the appearance of having abandoned the 
enterprise, and when Duncan's vigilance was relaxed, to 
make for Scotland. ^ In October, all such schemes were 
overturned by the defeat of the Dutch at Camperdown. 

Yet so elated was Tone by the formation of the Armee 
d'Angleterre in the same month that he almost forgot to 
record this disaster. ^ Bonaparte, fresh from his victories 
in Italy, was put in command. The new project was highly 
popular in France, and it revived the hopes of the little 
colony of " Patriots " in Paris, mostly Irish and English, 
but including some Scots, who had been driven into exile 
by prosecution at home.^ Tone had several interviews with 
Bonaparte as to the feasibility of co-operating with his 
countrymen in Ireland.* Somewhat later, another member 
of this community, a Scot named Watson, published a 
typical "Address to the People of Great Britain," inviting 
them to welcome the French. " Think of Ireland bleeding 
before you," he wrote to the Patriots of Scotland, " and be 
assured that the same fetters are being forged for you." 
Had Wallace died, had Buchanan and Fletcher written, 
had Ossian sung in vain ? he asked. The name of their 
country could scarce be found on the map of Europe, but it 
was about to regain its pristine glory. Its forsaken hamlets, 
its heather-clad mountains, would resound with joy, and 

1 Op. cit. ii. 439, 441. Ibid. ii. 452. 

^V. J. G. Alger, Englishmen in the French Revolutio7i <ind Paris ijt 

^Op. cit. ii. 455, 456. 


Scotland would be free.^ Pamphlets appeared describing 
former Descentes en Angleterre, and Hume and Robertson, 
whose histories had enjoyed an immense vogue in France, 
were cited to prove the tyrannical government of Scotland 
in the seventeenth century, which, it was calmly assumed, 
still prevailed at the end of the eighteenth. ^ 

Public interest in this country was further stimulated 
by the arrival in France of Thomas Muir. On February 
II, 1796, he escaped from Botany Bay in an American 
vessel. On reaching the west coast of North America, 
Muir, afraid of being recaptured by a British Man-of- 
war, set sail in a Spanish schooner and landed at 
Acapulco on the western shores of Mexico.^ The vice- 
roy sent him to Vera Cruz, whence he made his way 
to Havannah. There the governor detained him as a 
prisoner of war, and finally put him on board one of 
two frigates about to escort the viceroy's suite to Spain. 
While nearing Cadiz, the vessels fell in with two of Jervis's 
squadron. A fierce fight ensued, in which Muir was wounded, 

^ Momfeur, 4 frimaire, an vii. (Nov. 24, 1798). Alger, English77ien in the 
Fr. Rev. 271-2. Cf. Theo. Mandar : "0 Caledonie, O Fingal ! heros 
chantes par Ossian, vos ^pees seraient-elles tombees entre les mains des 
femmes, de ce sexe timide ! " etc. Philippique adressee au Due de Norfolk 
in Adresse au Rot de la Grande Bretagne, 3^ ^dn. Paris, an vii. 

2 Precis Historique des Principales Desce7ites qui ont ete faites dans la 
Grande Brelagne, par le c. Peyrard, 2^ ddn. Paris, an vi. ; Des Suites de la 
Contre- Revolution de 1660 en Angleterre^ par Benjamin Constant, Paris, 
an vii. ; Tableau Historique et Politique de la Dissolution et du Retablisse- 
7nent de la Monarchie Anglaise depuis 162^ jusqu'en 1702^ par le c. J. Chas. 
Paris, an viii. 

2 His biographer, P. Mackenzie, makes his hero traverse "a distance of 
over 4000 miles" on foot. This is taken from a contemporary, but for 
biographical purposes, worthless narrative entitled, Histoire de la Tyrannic 
exercee envers le Cdlebre Thojnas Muir., Paris, an vi. The more probable 
account of David in the Moniteur has been followed, supplemented by a 
letter from the French agent in the Windward Islands to Delacroix 
announcing Muir's escape and subsequent imprisonment at Havannah. 
Corr. Polite {Angl.) 570, f. 260. 


losing one eye and part of his cheek-bone.^ It is said that 
he was about to be cast overboard as dead when he was 
recognised by one of the doctors of the British fleet who had 
been his school-fellow. ^ The doctor concealed his country- 
man's identity, and Muir was handed over to the Spanish 
authorities along with the other wounded. On his recovery 
he was again threatened with imprisonment. Fortunately, 
he found means of communicating with the Directory, and 
after some delay he was liberated as a French subject. 
An enthusiastic welcome awaited him at Bordeaux. He 
was entertained at a public banquet, where five hundred 
guests drank to the health of " The Brave Scottish Advocate 
of Liberty, now the Adopted Citizen of France." An 
immense crowd assembled in front of the illuminated build- 
ing in which the celebrations took place, and his appearance 
on the balcony was greeted with shouts of Long live the 
Defenders of Liberty \ " In a few days the portrait of 
Le Celebre Thomas Muir " was everywhere on view.^ An 
article by David in the Moniteur heralded his approach to 
Paris.* " He arrives in France," it concluded, " at the very 
moment when the Grande Nation is menacing England, 

^ V. Cobbett, Political Register, vii. 162-266 : "The miscreant Muir has 
lost one eye, etc." These remarks were paraphrased in the Porcupi7tiad 
addressed to Cobbett by M. Carey, Philadelphia, 1799 : 
" Muir the rascal's lost one eye. 
So far so good, or may I die. 

A thousand blessings on the ball 

That caused his wounds. Such fate befall 

All Jacobin traitors, great and small." 

(Cited in Notes and Queries, ser. 4, iii. 365.) 

- P. Mackenzie, Life of Thomas Micir, 39 et seq., also his Revii7iiscences, 
pt. \. passim. 

^ F. Michel, Les Ecossais en Fra?ice, Les Francais en Ecosse, ii. chap. xl. 
where the references to the Moniteur are given. 

^Moniteur, 12 frimaire, an vi. (Dec. 2, 1797). 


and is taking steps to realise the project which he had con- 
ceived. Let this apostle of philanthropy come among us, 
let him find in his new fatherland friends and brothers, 
and may our victorious cohorts call him back to the country 
which gave him birth there to establish liberty. ... It 
would be impolitic as well as inhuman to leave in oblivion 
and expose to penury those illustrious strangers to whom 
we offer a place of refuge." Muir was not disposed to let 
himself be either forgotten or neglected. The Directory 
provided him with funds ; he set up a carriage and lived in 
considerable style. ^ Nevertheless he continued to pester the 
Government with demands for money. ^ 

As his health did not permit him to serve in the army of 
the Republic, he determined to aid it with his pen.^ He 
made friends with Napper Tandy, and published articles 
on behalf of the United Irishmen, which roused the wrath of 
Wolfe Tone.* More interesting are the memorials on the 
state of England and Scotland which he laid before the 
French Minister for Foreign Affairs. In one he pointed out 
that there was no foundation for the belief current in France 
that the English lower classes would welcome an invader.^ 
The case of Scotland was quite different, as he showed in 

^ Some glimpses of his life in Paris are given by the present writer in 
an article entitled Two Glasgow Merchants in the French Revolution 
(based on documents in the P.R.O., London, and F.O., Paris) in the Scot. 
Hist. Rev. Jan. 1911. 

2 In one letter he wishes to be put in immediate possession of a Do??taine 
National valued at 1 50,000 francs, so as not to be obliged to abuse their 
kindness any longer. Corr. Polit. {Aiigl.) 590, f. 321. In another he 
desires to be informed at once of the intentions of the Directory. Other 
nations, he says, had offered him a place of retreat, and frigates had been 
despatched to find him, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs well knew. 
But he had sacrificed all for the sacred cause of the RepubHc. Ibid. 592, 
f. 144. 

^ Ibid. 590, f. 321. ^ Life^ ii. 461. 

^Mdmoire de Muir sur I'etat d'Angleterre. Corr. Polit. {Angl.) 592, 
f. 161. 



another, where he discussed at length the pohtical condition 
of the country, the moral character of the people, their 
physical strength, the means of rendering a revolution 
successful, and how best it could be supported abroad. ^ 
His sketch of Scottish history was on the lines of French 
pamphleteers. " The pen of posterity would leave an indel- 
ible mark on the pages of Robertson and Hume." The 
Union between England and Scotland had been accomplished, 
in spite of Fletcher, by English bribes, and since then 
English influence had been paramount in its Parliamentary 
representation, in the universities, and in the Church. 
Commerce had been sacrificed to English interests, and in 
1748 the country had been disarmed. Scotland was asking 
liberty, justice, and vengeance, from the French Republic, 
and the people were not unworthy of their assistance. 
They were well educated and industrious. ^ The artisans 
had been inspired by the French Revolution, and had held 
a solemn convention in 1792, which was to be carefully 
distinguished from the British Convention of 1793, " a 
miserable plaything of the EngHsh Government." But its 
members had been without arms, without money, without 
means of defence. In France the storms of liberty were then 
about to burst. " They could but expose their hearts and 

Memoir es et Documents {A?tgl.) ii. 153. 
2 In a document entitled, " Idees sur la Situation en Angleterre," dated 
brumaire, an v. (Oct.-Nov. 1796), the writer, who professes to have been 
obliged to flee from Scotland for taking part in the first Convention of the 
Friends of the People, concludes thus : " The Scots are all democrats 
because they read good authors. Rousseau, Montesquieu, etc., are in 
the hands of the workmen." Memoires et Docs. {Angl.) 53, f. 215. It 
is a fact that the Edmburgh Gazetteer., which was largely circulated 
among this class, contained numerous advertisements of French works. 
V. No. 28, March 8, 1793, in the Brit. Mus. Cf. also Memoire Historique 
et Politique toiichant la Condiiite du Minister e de la Grande Bretagne a 
regard de la France., Paris (?) an ii., Corr. Polit. {Angl.) 588, f. 213. 
" L'Ecosse offrit encore un moyen de nuire au gouvernement britannique. 
Le peuple y est beaucoup plus instruit qu'en Angleterre ; il estime les 
Frangais, il aime leur revolution." 


their virtues." But since that time hberty had marched with 
giant steps. In case of invasion fifty thousand enhghtened 
Highlanders would be ready to come forward. According 
to English newspaper reports, the Highland regiments had 
lately refused to fire on the United Irishmen. There had 
also been opposition to the enrolment of militia in Scotland. 
Altogether the French Government might count on the 
support of one hundred thousand patriots. The Scots would 
not be provoked by the Government into any partial rising ; 
when they struck (and the time was soon coming), the blow 
would resound in every quarter. He suggested three ways 
in which they might be helped. The Republic should send 
officers, munitions of war, and money ; a proclamation should 
be issued allowing freedom of worship and the right of every 
class to choose its own pastors ; and the French troops 
should be warned to conduct themselves circumspectly. 
A provisional government could then be set up and an 
independent republic finally established. ^ Such was the 
extraordinary document that Muir, diseased in body and 
mind, submitted to his benefactors. ^ 

In January, 1798, the British Government received secret 
intelligence that the Directory had determined, if successful, 

^ There is another memorial proposing an insurrection (i) in Scotland, 
(2) in England, (3) in the British fleet. The writer, a Scotsman, says he 
could carry out these plans " if he had a safe and confidential messenger to 
go to London and arrange to meet Muir not in Paris^ but in some other 
place less suspicious." One part of the scheme was to seize the Castle of 
Edinburgh. The memorialist knew of a secret passage by which it could 
be surprised. The letter accompanying this document is dated 19 brumaire, 
an ix. (Nov. 10, 1800), but it should probably be an vii. Corr. Polit. 
{Angl) 594, f. 53 et seq. 

2 Muir's account of the convention in which he took part is obviously 
false. Allowance must be made for the sufferings he had since undergone, 
and for his desire to increase his influence with the Directory. Tone says 
of him, " Of all the vain, obstinate blockheads that ever I met, I never 
saw his equal." Life^ ii. 461. This description, and the tone of his cor- 
respondence at this period, show how far the character of the popular 
advocate of early days had changed. 



to set up separate republics in England, Scotland, and 
Ireland, and that the Scotch Directory " was to consist of 
Muir, Sinclair, Cameron, Simple, Lauderdale, and a Sor- 
belloni,'' with Ferguson, Macleod, and Campell {sic), as 
Ministers. 1 A month later, Bonaparte reported adversely 
on the whole plan of invasion, and the energies of France, 
for some years to come, were turned into other channels. 
Before the projects were renewed, Muir had been laid to 
rest in the land of his adoption. He died in January, 
1799, and was interred at Chantilly.^ 

^Secret Intelligence from France, January, 1798, Dropmore MSS. iv. 
69 and 70. Sinclair was one of the delegates of the British Convention ; 
Simple was probably Lord Sempill. Macleod was the M.P. for Inverness. 
For Cameron v. infra^ chap. ix. passim. Campbell may have been the 
person mentioned infra^ chap. ix. p. 188. 

2 Later accounts {e.g. Diet, of Nat. Biog.\ following Mackenzie, give 
Sep. 27, 1798, as the date, but the Moniteury 11 pluviose, an vii. (Jan. 30, 
1799), reports that he has just died as the result of the wounds he had 
received in the engagement near Cadiz. Mackenzie either suppressed, or 
was ignorant of Muir's dealings with the Directory, and all subsequent 
writers have derived their knowledge from him. 




While the Directory had been engaged in such schemes, 
Great Britain, " destitute of efficient alhes, threatened with 
invasion, short of money, burdened with debt and taxation, 
with pubhc credit at a low ebb, and its fleets in mutiny," 
had been passing through one of the most critical periods 
of its history. 1 The condition of Scotland had increased 
the anxiety of the Ministry. Since the trials of Watt and 
Downie, all democratic agitation had subsided, but in 1797 
new causes of irritation against the ruling classes brought 
it once more to the surface. 

During the wars of the eighteenth century, Scotland had 
been peculiarly open to attack, and the year 1760 had 
witnessed a demand for a Scottish militia on the lines of the 
English Act of 1757. In spite of a characteristic outburst 
of national feeling, it was refused on party grounds by the 
Newcastle Government.^ During the American War the ques- 
tion was raised again, but no action was taken. " I recollect 
nothing more worth communicating at present," wrote John 
Hope to Townshend in October, 1782, " except the opinion 
of my father and some of the old Whigs in Scotland con- 
cerning their Militia so much talked of, that it would be 
rather dangerous to put arms in the hands of the fanatics 
in the west of Scotland ; and I found, when I was lately in 
^ Polit. Hist, of Eng. x. 395. ^Hume Brown, Hist, of Scot. iii. 341. 



the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, that though most people 
were affronted at being refused a Mihtia, very few would 
exert themselves in it if it were really granted." ^ In 
December, 1792, Dundas had proposed bringing in a Scottish 
Militia Bill, but it was dropped, probably for similar reasons. ^ 
In 1797, however, the measure could no longer be delayed. 
It was known that the French had designs on Scotland, 
and privateers began to appear off the coasts. Internal 
tranquillity was secured by the Volunteers, and it was thought 
that the people could now be safely trusted.^ In March, 
Dundas formulated his ideas on the subject in a long letter 
to the Lord Advocate.* Orders were given to suspend the 
enrolment of Volunteers except in the maritime counties,^ 
and in June an Act was passed for embodying a militia force 
in Scotland.^ By its provisions, 6000 men were to be called 
out in the following manner. The schoolmaster in each 
parish was to make a list of all the able-bodied men between 
the ages of nineteen and twenty-three. The names were to 
be posted up at the church door on the Sunday preceding 
the day fixed for the meeting of the deputy-lieutenants 
of the district, where complaints were to be heard, the lists 
revised, and a date appointed for the ballot. Married men 
with more than two children, and all Volunteers, privates 
as well as officers, were to be exempt. Among other 
advantages, the militiamen were to receive is. ijd. a day, 

^Scot. Corr. vol. i. Oct. 18, 1782. 

2 "The idea of a Militia is giving serious uneasiness to many people in 
this town and its neighbourhood, and I am fully convinced that it would 
be highly improper to trust arms in the hands of the lower classes of 
people here and in Paisley." Ld. Prov. Dunlop, Glasgow, July 16, 1793, 
Scot. Corr. vol. vii. 

^Ld. Adv. to Home Secy. Feb. 15, 1797, Scot. Corr. vol. xiv. 

* Appendix C. 

^ Draft Letter, March 1797, Scot. Corr. Supp. vol. Ixii. 
^ 37 Geo. III. c. ciii. 


and, on being disbanded, would be free to set up in business 
in any town without paying the customary dues. 

In May, Robert Dundas had warned the Duke of Portland ^ 
that the Militia Bill was likely to be so much opposed 
and was so late in being brought forward, that it could not 
be counted on that summer as part of the national defence ; ^ 
but the authorities were totally unprepared for the fierce 
popular clamour that the enforcing of the Act provoked. 
From every quarter came reports of disorder.^ The most 
serious disturbance occurred on August 29 at Tranent in 
East Lothian.* On the day preceding the statutory meeting 
for revising the lists, rumours reached the deputy-lieutenants 
that messages were passing from colliery to colliery, and 
from parish to parish, urging the people to resist. In the 
evening a crowd of some two or three hundred from Tranent 
made a tour of the neighbouring villages, beating drums 
and shouting " No Militia ! " "To Tranent ! " The lives 
of the schoolmasters were threatened until they handed 
over the parish registers to the mob. The officials took their 
precautions, and arrived in the village escorted by some of 
the local yeomanry and a detachment of the Cinque Ports 
Cavalry. They were received by a large crowd, composed 
chiefly of irate wives and mothers, who openly declared 

^In July, 1794, he had been appointed Home Secretary in succession 
to Henry Dundas, who became Secretary of State for War and the 
Colonies. The new arrangement was very distasteful to the latter, and 
the Records show that he still continued to exercise a great influence on 
all matters pertaining to Scotland. Stanhope, Life of Pitt^ ii. ch. xviii.; 
Holland Rose, Willia7n Pitt and the Great War^ 271. 

^Ld. Adv. to J. King, May 19, 1797, Scot. Corr. Supp. vol. Ixii. 

^ Sir Henry Craik, the only historian who refers to this subject, minimises 
the opposition. A Century of Scot. Hist. ii. 166. 

* An excellent account of the riot will be found in J. Miller's The Lamp 
of Lothian^ new edn. Haddington, 1900, pt. i. ch. xix. The deputy- 
lieutenants' version was printed at the time as a handbill entitled A 
Narrative of the Proceedings at Tranent. 



that they would never let them leave the town alive. Most 
of the soldiers, reinforced by two troops of the Pembroke- 
shire Cavalry, were posted at one end of the village, and 
the deputy-lieutenants made for the inn, where a guard 
was set and business proceeded with. A " round robin '* 
against the Act, presented to them on behalf of the inhabi- 
tants of Prestonpans, was held to be highly seditious and was 
rejected, and the crowd, which had meanwhile been pelting 
the house with stones, redoubled the attack. An attempt 
was made to read the Riot Act, and the streets were cleared 
by the troops. The rioters, however, made a fresh onslaught 
from the fields behind the inn. The soldiers opened fire, 
and the cavalry, exasperated by the treatment they had 
received, threw off all restraint. Charging across the fields, 
they continued their mad career for a distance of two miles, 
shooting or cutting down all who crossed their path. Eleven 
people were killed and about twelve wounded, most of whom 
had taken no part in the riot.^ Such brutality created an 
immense sensation in the eastern districts, and the Scots 
Chronicle, with which Morthland, a former Friend of the 
People, was connected, published a violent letter on the 
subject.^ In the west and south the authorities experienced 
the same difficulties.^ At Carstairs in Lanarkshire the 
schoolhouse was set ablaze, and the fire was only extinguished 
when the parish registers were given up to the people. In 
Kirkintilloch and the neighbourhood similar outbreaks took 

^ Miller, op. cit. His statement as to the number killed is corroborated 
by a letter of the parish minister of Tranent to the Marquis of Tweeddale : 
" I can be positive," he writes, " because I visited the families of the dead 
and wounded." Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500, Sept. 2, 1797. The 
Lord Advocate maintained that only seven had lost their lives. Scot. 
Corr. vol. xv. Dec. 26, 1797. 

^ Scots Chro7ticle^ Sept. 1797. 

^ Correspondence in Scot. Corr. vol. xvii. and Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. 
Nos. 500 and 501. 


place. At Freuchie in Fife, and Strathaven in Lanarkshire, 
delegates assembled to take joint action. Trees of Liberty 
were set up at Galston and Dairy in Ayrshire. The Duchess 
of Montrose, whose husband was Lord-lieutenant of the 
County of Stirling, had to be protected by a squadron of 
dragoons on her journey to Glasgow. From the south the 
unrest spread to the north. In Aberdeenshire " people's 
minds were set against the Act." In every district of 
Perthshire there were mobs and riots, according to the Duke 
of Atholl, who was forced to sign an obligation that he would 
do nothing further " until the general sentiments of the 
country were fully known." It was said that a Mr. Cameron 
was encouraging the resist ers by issuing arms, and that 
nocturnal drills were taking place. 

Various explanations were given of the general upheaval. 
The Lords-lieutenant held that the Act had been sprung 
upon the people so quickly that it was imperfectly under- 
stood. But there were other reasons. In the past the 
Government had not kept faith with the fencible corps 
raised especially in the Highlands. Pressure had been 
brought to bear upon the men to " volunteer " for service 
abroad, where they had been detained for an indefinite 
time. As no period of service was mentioned in the Act, 
the same fears were now entertained. ^ The age limit told 
more heavily on the sparsely populated districts than on 
the towns ; and as all Volunteers were exempt from the 
baUot, the lower classes felt that they were being made to 
pay for either their poverty or their former disloyalty. 

^ In a petition in favour of John Christie, who had been condemned to 
seven years' transportation for taking part in a riot in Fife, it was stated 
" that uncommon pains had been taken by men of anarchical principles to 
inflame the minds of the people against the Militia Act by pretending the 
men were to be sent to the West Indies, etc." Scot. Cri7n. Corr. vol. Hii. 
Aug. 1797. For the same difficulties experienced in enforcing the corre- 
sponding Act in Ireland, v. Lecky, Hist, of E7tg. vii. 14, 15. 



The Scots Chronicle and various handbills did not fail to 
point out these objections to the obnoxious measure. ^ The 
officials were afraid to act. " There is no end of alarm and 
requisitions for troops," wrote the Commander-in-Chief. 
The Duke of Portland deemed the crisis so serious that he 
thought a meeting of the Cabinet should be summoned — a 
proposal deprecated by Dundas as likely to increase resist- 
ance by emphasising its importance. On the other hand, he 
urged that no efforts should be spared to carry out the law, 
and 1400 men were at once drafted into Scotland. As an 
object lesson, these reinforcements included two regiments 
of English militia. Explanations of the Act were issued, 
and its advantages set forth. Subscriptions for substitutes 
were raised. The Volunteers co-operated with the Regulars 
in attending the lieutenancy meetings, and the ringleaders 
of the malcontents, including Cameron, were apprehended. ^ 
Overawed by the military, and cowed by the punishment 
that had overtaken the Tranent and other rioters, the 
people submitted to their fate, and on October 3, word was 
sent to the Secretary of State that all was quiet. 

Yet it was some time ere the soreness of feeling caused 
by the repressive measures passed away. Morthland, though 
threatened with expulsion from the Faculty of Advocates, 
prepared to champion the cause of the relatives of those 
killed at Tranent by indicting for murder the soldiers who 

^ In forwarding precognitions regarding Cameron, Mr. A. Campbell 

(Perthshire) wrote to the Ld. Adv. on Oct. 16, 1797: "The Sco^s 

Chronicle^ I have found, is worth a hundred Camerons." Ediii. Univ. 
Laing MSS. No. 501. 

2 "It is clear that in all places where resistance has been made or is 
expected, they should not proceed till they are seconded by such an 
overpowering force as will ensure success. The yeomanry and every 
other person are much mistaken if they think their barnyards or anything 
else will be safer by timidity in taking care of themselves and their 
property." H. Dundas to Ld. Adv. Sept. 3, 1797, Edin. Univ. Laing 
MSS. No. 501. 


had taken part in the affray. ^ But one of the deputy- 
lieutenants raised an action for damages against him and 
his colleague of the Scots Chronicle, for publishing the letter 
of the brother of a girl who had been killed in the riot, 
and for five years the case dragged on in the Court of Session 
and the House of Lords. ^ The Lord Advocate endeavoured 
to stop the proceedings against the troops. He lodged a 
complaint in court that the agent of the plaintiffs, a Writer 
to the Signet, had instigated the unfortunate people to take 
action ; but the Court of Justiciary dismissed the plea as 
incompetent.^ Thereupon the Lord Advocate, as Public 
Prosecutor, refused to indict the military, and this method 
of evading the difficulty, having been submitted to English 
counsel, was approved of by the Government.* Cameron 
and others were charged with mobbing and rioting. The 
former fled the country, and four were sentenced by Braxfield 
to fourteen years' transportation to Botany Bay for partici- 
pating in a disturbance at Eccles in Berwickshire. This 
harshness defeated its purpose, for the jury, in subsequent 
trials, acquitted the accused, from a feeling that the punish- 
ment likely to be inflicted was too severe. ^ Eventually it 

^ Charles Hope published a motion which he intended to bring before 
the Faculty, Edin. Evening Courant^ Sept. 21, 1797 ; Scots Chronicle^ 
Nov. 21-24, 1797, where Morthland's correspondence with the Ld. Adv. is 
given. Fox in a speech on the anniversary of his election to Westminster 
denounced the treatment of Morthland and H. Erskine. 

2 Miller, op. cit.\ Scots Chronicle^ Mar. 9-13, 1798 ; Couper, Edin. Period. 
Press ^ ii. 212-8. 

^ Scots Chronicle^ Nov. 21-24, 1797- 

^ A large number of declarations were taken, and a plan of Tranent was 
prepared showing the places where the victims had been shot. The Lord 
Advocate admitted that one case warranted a charge of murder against 
the individual who might be proved to have fired. Scot. Corr. vol. xv. 
Dec. 26. Counsel's opinion was "that he did not think it a case which 
called for a prosecution when the whole of the provocation was taken into 
consideration." Vol. xvi. Jan. 3, 1798. 

^" Truth is the Lord Justice Clerk was too violent and hasty in 



was found advisable to pardon most of the culprits as the 
best means of conciliating the people, with the result that 
future embodiments of the mihtia gave little trouble.^ 

Though the manner in which the Militia Act had been 
promulgated, and the methods employed to enforce it, were 
sufficient in themselves to account for the general disorders 
that ensued, the authorities both in Edinburgh and London 
were convinced that deeper causes could be assigned. I 
am satisfied,'' wrote Henry Dundas to the Duke of Portland, 
" that the Advocate is right in believing that Jacobinism 
is, to a certain extent, at the bottom of it." ^ These views 
of the recent crisis were based not only on the reports of 
the Lords-lieutenant, but also on information regarding 
certain secret societies known as " United Scotsmen." 
The trials for High Treason in 1794, as has been indicated, 
had been a fatal blow to the Democrats, but there were a 
few individuals who still maintained a secret propagandism. 
In July, 1796, for example, Alexander Leslie, an Edinburgh 
bookseller, wrote to the London Corresponding Society 
offering to act as their representative. He stated that he 
had agents all over Scotland, and that he would be pleased 
to receive any of their pubhcations, more especially medals 
like half-pence, for which there was a demand.^ Other 

pronouncing sentence, though at his age, and with the respect we all 
bear him, I should be sorry if he thought either your Grace, or those 
whose opinion he values, disapproves of his judgment in that case." Ld. 
Adv. to Home Secy. April 27, 1798, Scot. Corr. vol. xvi. Braxfield died 
on May 30, 1799. 

^ Scot. Criminal Corr. April 11 and June 5, 1799, vol. liii. 

'^Scot. Corr. vol. xiv. Aug. 27 and 30, Sept. 5, 1797. 

^ Place Coll. Brit. Mus. Add. MSS. 27815, f. 74. Some of these 
medals are preserved in the Coin Department of the Brit. Mus. In the 
same collection there are also loyalist medals. One inscribed " The Three 
Thomases, 1796" represents Thomas Paine, Thomas Spence (a publisher 
of Paine's works), and Thomas Muir, hanging on a gibbet. On the reverse 
is the legend, " May the three knaves of Jacobin Clubs never get a trick." 
The Writings of Thoinas Paine^ ed. M. D. Conway, iii. 11. 


letters in the Place Collection prove that the London 
Corresponding Society tried to keep up communication with 
their sympathisers in Scotland.^ In May, 1797, a Mr. 
Jameson arrived in Edinburgh. His conduct aroused sus- 
picion ; his letters were opened at the post office, and it 
was discovered that he was one of their emissaries. He 
was followed to Glasgow and other places in the vicinity, 
where he met with select parties of former Friends of the 
People. 2 Jameson seems to have made little progress 
among them, and learning that he had been found out, he 
entered the Government service as a spy to watch the rami- 
fications of another organisation among the cotton spinners 
and weavers in the west.^ 

The members of the new societies adopted the name of 
United Scotsmen, after the example of the United Irishmen, 
many of whom had crossed over to Scotland owing to the 
troubles in their own country.* Like the latter, the United 

1 27815, ff. 5, 16, 17, 136. 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. xiv. May 7, June 26, Aug. 16. 

^Sheriff of Glasgow to the Ld. Adv. Nov. 18, 1797, Scot. Corr. vol. xv. 
Some of Jameson's reports are in vol. xvi. May, 1798. 

^ As it was reported that the United Irishmen were in correspondence 
with the disaffected in Scotland, a watch was set on the boats crossing to 
Port Patrick. From April to June, 1797, as many as 912 individuals 
arrived there "in the hold." "We still have swarms from Ireland," wrote 
the Lord Advocate, " but have sent back as many, indeed more, persons 
than in strict law we are authorised to do. But we must not stick at 
trifles." Scot. Corr. vol. xiv. July 14, 1797 ; also Irish Corr. vol. Ixix. 
May 9, 1797. There can be no doubt that the United Scotsmen learnt 
the details of the Irish organisation from these refugees. The Glasgow 
members "were mostly Irish," according to one of their number who 
made an official declaration on his arrest. Scot. Corr. vol. xvi. April 
13, 1798. A society of United Scotsmen was formed in Glasgow on 
November 5, 1793 {Glasgow Advertiser^ Nov. 11-15). It was represented 
at the British Convention, but it seems to have had no connection with 
the later societies, which were secret organisations. This explains Mr. 
Omond's erroneous account of the British Convention in his Lives of the 
Lord Advocates^ ii. 194. 



Scotsmen had an elaborate system of committees — parochial, 
county, provincial, and national — oaths of secrecy, and 
private signs and passwords. A few meetings of delegates 
were held in Glasgow and the neighbourhood during the 
summer and autumn of 1797, and it was reported that the 
central committee intended to send representatives to 
London, among other places, when they had sufficient funds.^ 
The spread of the associations eastwards was facilitated by the 
discontent provoked by the Militia Act.^ The chief organiser 
in that district was George Mealmaker, who had already 
brought himself within the grasp of the law in connection 
with Palmer's trial and the British Convention.^ Under 
his direction, the Resolutions and Constitution of the Society 
of United Scotsmen, closely approximating to those of the 
United Irishmen, were printed, and distributed in the 
counties of Forfar, Perth, and Fife.* A meeting of four 
delegates from Cupar, Kirriemuir, Brechin, and Coupar- 
Angus, was subsequently held in the house of Mealmaker, 
who was appointed to represent them on a National Com- 
mittee ; but he was apprehended at Dundee in November,^ 

^ Declarations taken at Glasgow, April, 1798, Scot. Corr. vol. xvi. 

2 "You will observe that the first step of this system (imported from 
Ireland) has been by threats to intimidate justice from acting on the 
Militia Bill ; while a mob being once collected, and having effected that 
purpose, are by degrees to be carried by Cameron and other ring- 
leaders to purposes widely different." Duke of Atholl to Ld. Adv. 
Sept. 10, 1797. Scot. Corr. vol, xv. 

3 Mealmaker was the author of the address on the war for the revising 
and circulating of which Palmer had been transported. He had also 
been arrested in connection with Watt's conspiracy. 

State Trials^ xxvi. 1138. In December, 1797, a spy reported that 
17 "citizens were united" and 17 "supposed to be united" in Perth. 
Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 501. 

^A. Warrender to Ld. Adv. Nov. 10, 1797. "But what is to be done in 
the West country ? " he adds. " Something must be ; for there, I suppose, 
the business originated and is in chief force." 


and further arrests were made at Perth, Dunfermline, and 
Edinburgh. 1 

Mealmaker was tried in January, 1798.2 He was charged 
with sedition, with pubHshing inflammatory pamphlets, and 
administering unlawful oaths contrary to an Act passed in 
the previous year. His counsel urged that the sole aim 
of the United Scotsmen, as stated in their constitution, 
was to agitate for annual Parliaments and universal suffrage. 
The oath of secrecy, he said, covered no treasonable design, 
but had been rendered necessary by the intolerance of the 
times. The Lord Advocate contended that friends of good 
order would never have sought at such a time to inquire 
into the defects of the constitution. The United Scotsmen 
had declared that they would never desist until they had 
obtained their object. If they brought over the majority, 
rebellion, in the prisoner's opinion, would be a moral duty. 
He had sought to encourage his confederates by point- 
ing to the existence of similar societies in England and 
Ireland, and Parliamentary reform was a mere pretext 
for " a total overthrow of the Constitution and Government, 
for which they were to substitute, at least what subsists 
in a neighbouring kingdom, murder, rapine, and all the 
enormities which can disgrace human nature." Mealmaker 
received the usual sentence of fourteen years' transpor- 
tation. "It is of essential importance," wrote Robert 
Dundas, " that Christie, Campbell, and Mealmaker should 
be sent to Botany Bay as soon as possible. The discoveries 
we are daily making of what is going forward among 
the United Scotsmen warrant me in what I am now 

^ Scots Chronicle, Nov. 10-14, Nov. 14-17. Among those arrested was 
Leslie, the bookseller. He was " fugitated " for non-appearance in May, 
1798. Scots Chronicle, May 25-29, 1798. 

State Trials, xxvi. 11 38 et seq. ; Cockburn, Exam, of Trials for Sedn. 
ii. 150 et seq. 


stating." 1 Others were arrested at Glasgow in April, but 
none of the accused seem to have been brought to trial. ^ 

These vigorous measures were prompted by the dread 
lest the rebellion which had broken out in Ireland should 
spread to Scotland, and the same fears had led to similar 
action in England. Two delegates of the United Irishmen, 
Arthur O'Connor and O'Coigley or Quigley, were apprehended 
at Margate in February, 1798, on their way to France, along 
with John Binns, who had been attempting to form societies 
of United Englishmen in London. The chief members of 
these associations were seized on April 18, and the committee 
of the Corresponding Society on the following day. As a 
result of information thus obtained, the suspension of the 
Habeas Corpus Act was immediately renewed, and in March, 
1799, a committee of secrecy of the Commons presented a 
Report relative to the Proceedings of Different Persons and 
Societies in Great Britain and Ireland engaged in a Treason- 
able Conspiracy, which was followed by another from the 
Lords in May.^ In these it was confidently asserted that 
all the *' United " in Great Britain had been in the closest 
correspondence with the United Irishmen, whose acknow- 
ledged aim was to set up a republic in their country with 
the aid of the French. The treasonable designs of the original 
conspirators had been amply revealed by the recent events in 
Ireland, but there can be no doubt that the operations of their 
British associates were exaggerated. Francis Place, who was 
intimately acquainted with the extreme reformers in London, 
says that the United Englishmen consisted of some twelve 

^Scot. Corr. vol. xvi. Feb. 13, 1798. Christie, and probably Campbell, 
had been sentenced in connection with Militia Riots in Fife. Braxfield 
reported adversely on a petition in Christie's favour. Scot. Crivi. Corr. 
vol. liii. Aug. 1798. 

2 The declarations of the prisoners will be found in Scot. Corr. vol. xvi. 

^ Pari. Hist, xxxiv. 579 et seq. They were also published in pamphlet 


enthusiasts, such as Binns and Evans, who had learned 
the details of the Irish organisation from O'Coigley.^ With 
characteristic energy they had set to work, collecting 
adherents and preparing manifestoes. According to the 
Report, they had been so successful as to establish forty 
societies in London, but Place believed that not a single 
one existed, and that the April meeting where the agitators 
were arrested was the first that had ever been held.^ He 
also maintained that the account of the London Correspond- 
ing Society was " a mass of exaggerations and falsehoods." 
What remained of it," he says, referring to January, 1798, 
was its refuse, with the exception of a few who, from what 
they considered conscientious motives, still adhered to it." 
Though these people voted an address to the United Irish- 
men — " a disgrace on those who passed it " — the society 
had no secret whatever." Yet the same authority admits 
that Binns and his friends, connected both with this 
association and the United Englishmen, had aimed at a 
revolution, and it is not surprising that the Government, 
under the circumstances, regarded their operations as the 
culmination of designs which could be traced back to the 
year 1792.^ Beyond their intercourse with O'Coigley and 
O'Connor, however, the United Englishmen appear to have 
had no communication with the United Irishmen in Dublin, 
who indeed disapproved of all such propagandism in Great 
Britain lest the attention of the French should be diverted 
from Ireland. For the same reason they had no dealings 
with the United Scotsmen.* It is true that, in a letter to 

^Brit Mus, Add. MSS. 2y2,o%, passwi. 

2 Place was invited, but he refused. 

3 With much less reason the Committee of Secrecy attempted to connect 
the United Scotsmen with the Friends of the People of 1792. 

^ In August, 1798, O'Connor, M'Nevin, and Emmet, three leaders of the 
United Irishmen, gave evidence on oath before a secret committee of 
the Irish House of Lords. Lecky, Hist, of Eng. viii. chap. xxx. passim. 


the French Directory, the Secret Committee of England 
stated that a delegate from the Irish and the Scots " was 
now sitting with them." ^ The Scots are said to have 
intended sending a representative, but it is unlikely that 
they ever had sufficient funds to defray the expense ; and 
the person referred to may have been Cameron, or one of 
his associates who, having been outlawed in connection with 
the militia riots, came to London and assumed this role.^ 

In his examination O'Connor admitted that "there might have been some 
slight connection between the north and the Scotch and English societies, 
but that there was no close connection between them and the Executive 
Directory of the Union." "Any connection with them," he says in 
another passage, "was merely between individuals. The Irish Executive 
Directory wished to keep clear of them." Report of the Secret Committee 
of the House of Lords {Ireland)^ August jc?, lygS. Dublin, 1798. 
Append, iv. ; v. also the Second Report^ Sept. 1798. These statements 
are corroborated by the documents in the Irish Corr. vols. Ixii. and Ixix. 
Thus on July 23, 1796, news came from Belfast that two delegates had 
been sent to Glasgow, and that they had returned in high spirits with the 
message that " the Scotch were willing and ready to act with the Friends 
of Liberty in Ireland." The same information was discussed three days 
later, at a Northern Provincial meeting of United Irishmen. In May, 
1797, one Stephenson was said to be going on a mission to Paisley. The 
only paper which contradicts O'Connor^s evidence states that three 
delegates from the United Britons had been sent to the National Com- 
mittee at Dublin. This, however, may have been a mere rumour due to 
the publication of their address to the United Irishmen in January, 1798. 
Pari. Hist, xxxiv. 641 ; Irish Corr. vol. Ixxv. Feb. i and 23, 1798. 

^ Pari. Hist, xxxiv. 646. 

2 There are two documents in the French Foreign Office Archives 
which throw some light on this point. In a letter, dated Paris, 
13 vendemiare, an vi. (Oct. 4, 1797), O'Coigley and another United 
Irishman state that while in London they had become acquainted with 
members of the chief revolutionary committee of England, who had 
charged them to communicate certain information. They had also met a 
delegate from the United Scotsmen sent expressly to ascertain from 
the English patriots whether they were willing to assist their brethren in 
Scotland and Ireland. "He gave them to understand that the Scottish 
patriots were very powerful and ready to act with those of England and 
Ireland at any moment." Corr. Polit. {Angl.)^ 592, f. 43. The other 
document is a pretentious memorial, dated July 19, 1799, drawn up 
by " le citoyen Watson," probably the person mentioned a7ite., chap. viii. 
p. 171. He describes himself as "President of the Executive Committee 


The organisation of the United Scotsmen existed largely 
on paper, and what Lord Rosebery says of the conspiracy 
of Watt in 1794 might be applied to theirs : "It was on so 
small a scale that it might well have been treated as venial." 
While the United Irishmen could be numbered by thousands, 
the United Scotsmen never amounted to more than a few 
hundreds of " the lowest order." 

On July 12, 1799, an Act was passed suppressing all these 
societies by name. Continued dearth,^ and the operation 
of the corn laws,^ provided a fund of discontent upon which 

of the London Corresponding Society, Member of the British Union, and 
Representative of the Associations of Bath, Bristol, etc., to the Directory 
of the French RepubHc." After giving an exaggerated account of the 
numbers and importance of the United Scotsmen, he goes on to say 
that the United Britons determined to send four delegates to the French 
Government. Williams and himself were selected as representatives of 
the English, and James Kennedy and Angus Cameron of the Scots. 
These plans were upset by the prompt action of the authorities. Five 
hundred patriots were arrested. He himself escaped to France, but the 
other delegates were still in London, and he adds a short sketch of their 
careers. Kennedy was assistant secretary of the British Convention, was 
arrested in 1794, and since his liberation, had been employed on various 
missions by the popular societies. Angus Cameron was a Highlander, 
and an orator of great importance among his countrymen, fifteen thousand 
of whom had risen at his call to oppose the Militia Act. Memoires et 
Documents {Angl.\ 53, f. 361. From these distorted statements the only 
deduction that can be safely drawn is, I think, the one given in the text. \^ 
For Kennedy, v. State Trials, xxiii. 1181 ; for Cameron, supra, and 
State Trials, xxvi. 11 70. Gray, one of Mealmaker's confederates who, 
according to the Report, had escaped to Hamburg, had never left Britain. 
Scot, Corr. vol. xviii. May 23, 1802. 

^ " Bread and corn are at a price high beyond all former experience." 
Ld. Prov. of Edin. to Duke of Portland, Mar. 11, 1800, Scot. Corr. 
vol. xvii. In Dumfries, a labourer's wage was one shilling a day, and 
oatmeal was selling at five shillings a stone. Ibid. Nov. 11, 1800. 

2 In a petition from the Friendly Societies of Dumfries, consisting of 
2000 members, it was represented that the crop of 1799 had been bad, 
but that they had " calmly submitted to the will of Providence." Though 
the crop of 1800 was good, provisions were still dear. Dumfries was near 
Cumberland and Liverpool, and dealers exported. This had been pro- 
hibited, but the law was evaded by taking the grain to a southern Scottish 
port and thence by land to England. Scot. Corr. vol. xvii. Oct. 29, 1800. 



agitators might still draw. The United Scotsmen continued 
to maintain a spasmodic activity, especially in Glasgow and 
the county of Fife, down to 1802. In that year, Thomas 
Wilson, a Fife weaver, was charged with sedition, a crime 
all the more heinous in his case as he had been a Volunteer. ^ 
But his comparatively lenient sentence of a month's im- 
prisonment and two years' banishment showed that a 
calmer view of the situation was beginning to prevail in 
official circles, and from this date the United Scotsmen 
ceased to trouble the authorities.^ 

During the winter of 1 800-1 there were meal riots all over the country, 
and the Volunteers and Regulars were in constant requisition to suppress 
them. Scot. Corr. vol. xvii. 

^ Cockburn, Exaut. of Trials for Sedn. ii. 168. Wilson in March, 1802, 
acted as a delegate of the United Scotsmen. Copy of an examination 
taken by the Sheriff of Fife, March (?) 1802, Scot. Corr. vol. xviii. 

2 A good deal of uneasiness was caused by the fear of spies. The poet 
Campbell was suspected on his return home from a tour in Germany, and 
a warrant was issued against him. He cleared himself by a voluntary de- 
claration before the Sheriff of Edinburgh, who reported : " He is a young 
man of some literary talents, and I understand supports himself by writing 
for the booksellers. Like many of his class he entertains rather free 
notions on political subjects, but I do not suppose he has carried them 
further than loose conversation." Scot. Corr. vol. xviii. May 19, 1801. 




Towards the close of the century, the forces brought into 
play by the French Revolution began to manifest them- 
selves under new forms of energy in the Church. In 1784 
the Moderates had secured a definite victory in the patron- 
age controversy, and since then the same conditions that 
made for conservatism in the State had strengthened 
their position. The avowed aim of this party was to 
retain the governing and educated classes within its fold, 
and as the panic due to the ferment in France spread 
to Scotland, it was among the ministers of the Established 
Church that these sections of the community found their 
most efficient allies. The few who, like SomerviUe of Jed- 
burgh, had evinced an early admiration for the Revolution, 
soon repented of their premature enthusiasm,^ and joined 
those clerical pamphleteers who were inveighing against 
all innovation as not only dangerous but even impious. 
Paine in his Rights of Man had scoffed at Burke's idea of 
the indissoluble tie that bound together Church and State, 
and his Age of Reason, though originally intended to stem 
the flood of atheism in France, ^ confirmed the belief that 

^ Somerville, Own Life, 268. He published Observations on the Con- 
stitution and State of Britain, Lond. 1793 ; Effects of the French Revolu- 
tion, Edin. 1793. 

2 Works, ed. M. D. Conway, iv. 21. 



political reform and free-thinking went hand in hand. It 
is true that opinions not essentially different from those of 
Paine had long been fashionable among those ranks of 
society frequented by the Moderates, ^ but when the worship 
of the Supreme Reason was set up in Paris, when Paine's 
bawbee blasphemies " ^ were found circulating among 
weavers and artisans, a cry of " The Church in Danger 
was immediately raised. To such a cry even the Popular 
Party could not remain indifferent, and it was therefore 
with one voice that the clergy denounced all democratic 

Their exertions in this direction were, in most instances, 
doubtless disinterested, but the Government, by a judicious 
distribution of its favours, did not fail to emphasise the 
importance it attached to their support. On the death of 
Principal Robertson, for example, the royal chaplaincies 
were increased to six,* afterwards to ten, and Dunda.s 
apparently went so far as to offer one of the new posts 
to Dr. Erskine, the venerable leader of the Popular 

* Paine was a Deist. " I believe in God ... I believe that religious 
duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make 
our fellow creatures happy." Ibid. As early as 1746, Ramsay of Ochter- 
tyre noted that " Deism, apparelled sometimes in one fashion and some- 
times in another, was making rapid progress." Hume Brown, Hist, of 
Scot. iii. 363 and 373, where later evidence of free-thinking as a fashionable 
mental attitude is given. But whereas the Moderates who preached mere 
" heathen morality " were content with ignoring Christian mysteries, Paine 
openly attacked them. 

2 So Meg Dods characterises them in St. Ronaris Well., ch. xiv. 

^Cf. Address of the Moderator of the General Assembly, 1794: "If 
designing men attempt to seduce the inhabitants of this country to sedi- 
tion and rebellion by talking to them of the majesty and sovereignty of 
the people as Korah, Dathan, and Abiram of old . . . shall not ministers 
expose the enormity of such designs and set before men the terrors of the 
Lord that they may be prevented from ' perishing in the gainsaying of 
Core ? ' " Scot, Reg. ii. 273-4. 

* Somerville, op. cit. 284. 


Party. 1 On the other hand, this system of rewards tended 
to create sycophants Hke James Lapslie, minister of Campsie, 
the worst specimen of his class. For his ofhciousness in 
securing evidence against Muir, he received a pension for 
himself and his family,^ and he continued to pester the 
Lord Advocate for even more substantial recognition of 
his services.^ 

Those outside the pale of the Established Church were 
not forgotten in the desire to preserve domestic peace. The 
Episcopalians were gratified by the removal of their religious 
disabilities in 1792,^ and in the following year a Relief Bill 
conferred a similar boon on the Roman Catholics. To 
secure the good will of the latter, Henry Dundas exerted his 
influence to procure for them secret State aid.^ Their 
resources had been much diminished by the loss of the Scots 
College in Paris during the anarchy in France, and in 1796 
an application for pecuniary assistance was made on their 
behalf to the Home Secretary, on the ground that it 

^ At all events Erskine wrote to the Lord Advocate saying that he had 
explained to the brethren with whom he was most connected the 
Government's intention regarding "the new chaplaincies." He declined 
"what Mr. Secretary Dundas was so obliging as to offer to himself," 
but recommended two other divines, presumably of his own party. " I 
have only to add," he concludes, " I beg you would assure Mr. Secretary 
Dundas that the ministers with whom I have conversed on this subject 
and with whom I am accustomed to act on other occasions, may be 
entirely relied on as zealous friends to the constitution." Scot. Corr. 
July 25, 1793. 

2 "Rev. James Lapslie, The Pension Hunter," Kay, Orig. Portraits^ 
ii. 113. 

^ Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500, June 27, 1798, Aug. 1799. 

^ Grub, An Eccles. Hist, of Scot. Edin. 1861, iv. ch. Ixxxii. passim. " Fox 
remarked that the king's ministers were very ready to grant relief to one 
class of Dissenters in Scotland, although they had opposed a motion of 
his in favour of the English Unitarians." 

^ Life of Bishop Hay in the Journal and Appendix to Scotichronicon 
and Monasticon^ J. F. S. Gordon. Glasgow, 1867. i. chaps, xxi. and xxii. 
The English Roman Catholics had already received a grant. 


would prevent emigration. As an indication of their loyalty, 
the Scottish hierarchy issued a Pastoral Letter in February, 
1798, in which they pointed out that while " everybody 
ought to bear his part in the common defence," Roman 
Catholics had special cause to arm against the French, 
since their Holy Father had been banished from his Chair 
and become a prisoner in their hands." ^ When negotia- 
tions were renewed towards the end of the year, it was 
represented to Dundas that the subsidy " would secure 
friends to the great cause of subordination and allegiance 
to His Majesty's Government." Such arguments proved 
successful. £600 and a yearly allowance of £50 were given 
to the two Roman Catholic Seminaries in Scotland, as well 
as a sum sufficient to make up the salaries of the priests to 
£20. In addition, each of the Vicars Apostolic was to receive 
£100 a year, and their coadjutors £50. The profoundest 
secrecy had to be maintained regarding this grant from the 
public funds, and even the Roman Catholic laity were kept 
in ignorance. 2 

The attitude of various groups of Seceders with respect 
to the burning questions of the day caused much more 
anxiety to those entrusted with administration.^ By this 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. xvi. May 7, 1798. Gordon, op. cit. 407. Hay's 
coadjutor Geddes, who shared in its composition, had already written 
Carmeii Seculare pro Gallica Genfe, an ode in praise of the French 
Revolution. It was published with an English translation, Lond. and 
Paris, 1790. 

2 The grant, which was never regularly paid, ceased in 1805. Gordon, 
op. cit. 416. "Nor can we doubt that the original concession was dictated 
by motives of political expediency rather than by any real sense of what 
justice required." Bellesheim, Hist, of Cath. Church of Scot, trans. 
Hunter Blair, iv. 256. 

^Referring to an advertisement of the Unitarians in Edinburgh, the 
Lord Advocate wrote : "It should be treated as the raving of some mad 
man. My hope is the good people of Edinburgh will rise and pull down 
the house to pieces, and sure I am their conduct in doing so should be 
winked at." Ld. Adv. to J. Davidson, London, March 19, 1792. Edin. 
Univ. Laing MSS. No. 294. 


time they had increased to about 150,000. Of these, one- 
fifth belonged to the Rehef Church, which had been set up 
as a result of the second secession in 1761. The first Seceders 
of 1733 had eventually constituted themselves under the 
name of the Associate Synod. In 1747, the Burgess Oath 
led to a division within their ranks. The Anti-Burghers 
objected to the clause binding the subscriber to acknowledge 
that " the true religion " was presently professed within 
this realm," and formed the General Associate Synod. The 
Burghers accepted the oath and retained the original name 
of Associate Seceders. Each branch now numbered about 
50,000.^ In November, 1792, Henry Dundas, writing from 
Melville Castle to Pitt, reported that while the clergy of the 
Established Church were loyal, the others were far otherwise.^ 
This impression was probably due to the part played by 
some of the Seceding ministers in the reforming societies.^ 
Pulteney, during his stay in Scotland,* was therefore com- 
missioned to make further investigation regarding their 
sentiments. James Peddie of the Burgher Synod, with 
whom he communicated, assured him that there was no 
reason to suppose that the members of the Secession were 
otherwise disposed than their predecessors in 1745, when 
an official inquiry proved that not one of them had joined 
the Pretender. He himself had signed the resolutions lying 
at the Goldsmiths' Hall, and if his colleagues had not 
collectively expressed their attachment to the constitution, 

1 In 1799 the Seceders are said to have numbered 154,000 — Reformed 
Presbytery, 4000 ; Anti-Burgher Synod, 55,000 ; Burgher Synod, 55,000 ; 
Rehef Church, 36,000 ; Methodists, Independents, Baptists, etc., 4000. 
G. Struthers, Hist, of the Relief Church., 408. 

2 J. Holland Rose, lVillia??i Pitt and the Great War^ 77. 

-V. lists of delegates to the various conventions of the Friends of the 

^V. ante., ch. v. p. 103. Wm. Pulteney to H. Dundas, Dec. 3, 1792, 
Scot. Corr. vol. vi. 


it was on account of a rebuff they had experienced in 1769, 
when their address to the King had not been accepted 
because " they were not known in law." ^ 

The Anti-Burghers, however, were distinguished by the 
zeal with which they endeavoured to maintain the testimony 
of the historic covenants of 1638 and 1643. In 1795, they 
provided fresh grounds for the insinuations against the 
Seceders in general by characterising as unwarrantable, " all 
declarations or subscriptions expressive of an unqualified 
satisfaction with a government " of which the Anglican 
Church was a component part. At the same meeting of 
Synod, a formal complaint was preferred against one of 
their divines, John Young of Hawick, who, in his Essays on 
Government^ had come forward to defend the British Consti- 
tution and free his brethren from the aspersions cast upon 
their loyalty. In these vigorous publications he had con- 
demned the Friends of the People, and justified the war 
with France and the measures taken to crush the sedition 
at home. They became so popular that they ran through 
several editions in a few months, and the author was even 
offered a Government pension, which he refused. He was 
now accused in his own Synod of making statements regard- 
ing the connection of Church and State which were not in 
harmony with the principles of the Anti-Burghers. A 
committee was appointed to examine his writings, but 
nothing came of its deliberations. The same scruples 
prevented the adoption of a report prepared by another 
committee to prove that, " consistent with their solemn 
engagements to promote reformation," they had always 
" inculcated obedience to the civil authorities of the 
country." ^ In 1798, the Burghers voted a loyal address, 

^ J. Peddie to Pulteney, Dec. 26, 1792, Scot. Corr. vol. vi. 
2Edin. 1794. 

^M'Kerrow, Hist, of the Secession Church.^ ii. ch. 2^ passim. 


and it seems to have been effectual in clearing the Seceders 
as a whole from the charge of disaffection.^ 

Meanwhile these discussions, together with the overthrow 
of the religious establishment in France, had revived in 
all branches of the Secession the question of the relation 
of Church and State. ^ Not a few ministers of the Relief 
seized the occasion to call attention to the distinctive 
principle of their own communion by publishing pamphlets 
advocating the abolition of a national system of religion.^ 
But among the Burghers and Anti-Burghers a controversy 
arose which produced further schisms.* While the " New 
Lights " averred ^ that the power ascribed to the civil magis- 
trate in the Confession of Faith was Erastian, the Old 
Lights," professing an unwavering belief in the National 
Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant, maintained 
that it was the duty of rulers to employ their authority in the 
active support of the interests of religion. The New Lights 
were successful in both bodies in retaining the adherence 

1 M'Kerrow, op. cit. ii. 356. After consulting the Lord President of the 
Court of Session, and the officials of the Church of Scotland, the Lord 
Advocate forwarded it to the Duke of Portland with the following 
explanation : "In this country the Seceders amount as nearly as can be 
calculated to 100,000 persons, and your Grace will recollect that it has 
been, with too much reason, hitherto believed that the great majority of 
their pastors are as hostile to the state as to the reUgious Establishment. 
Whether that belief has hitherto been erroneous and unjust, or that the 
danger of the country has opened their eyes to their real duty and allegi- 
ance, I cannot but warmly approve and recommend to your Grace's 
acceptance this spontaneous and unsolicited pledge of the loyalty of so- 
large a portion of the people." Scot. Corr. vol. xvi. May i. 

2 Struthers, op. cit. ch. xxi. " Effects of the French Revolution." 
2 Struthers, op. cit. p. 382. 

^M'Kerrow, op. cit. ii. chaps, iv. and viii. "The Secession Church 
[Burgher and Anti-Burgher] did not escape the sifting and liberaHsing 
influence of the French Revolution." Struthers, op. cit. 384. 

^ " As one result of the spread of the so-called rational opinions which 
sprang from the French Revolution." D. Scott, Annals and Statistics of 
the Original Secession Churchy Edin. 1886, p. 38. 



of most of their congregations. ^ This adoption of Volun- 
taryism paved the way for the future union of the Seceding 
Synods, the members of which exercised a considerable 
influence on public opinion when the same controversy 
became acute within the Established Church at a later 

The dangers to which a State Church is peculiarly exposed 
had been emphasised in the pamphlets of the period, ^ and 
were practically exemplified in the condition of the Church 
of Scotland itself. For there can be no doubt that the close 
alliance between the Kirk, more especially the Moderates, 
and the partisans of Dundas, had been hurtful to its true 
interests. In Burke's phrase it had rendered the clergy 
" culpably obsequious to every measure of Government." ^ 
However anxious the Manager of Scotland might be to secure 
their support, he could not afford to offend the landed 
interest, as was shown by his acquiescence in the rejection of 
a much-needed Augmentation of Stipends Bill in 1793.* 
Patronage, which, in the opinion of its more enlightened 
defenders, was to be a means of raising the social status 

^ The New Lights among the Burghers carried the day in the Synod of 
1799. Their opponents, seconded by Dr. Porteous of Glasgow, one of 
H. Dundas's regular correspondents in Church affairs, accused them 
of sedition. The charge was so persistently made in a case which came 
before the courts regarding congregational property, that the Lord 
Advocate was asked by the judges to investigate the matter. After 
inquiry, he acquitted them publicly as the victims of groundless slanders. 
M'Kerrow, op. cit. ii. chap, viii.; W. Porteous, The New Light Exa7nmed^ 
Glasgow, 1800; J. Peddie, A Defence of the Associate Synod against the 
Charge of Sedition^ Addressed to Wm. Porteous^ D.D.^ Edin. 1800. 

2 Smith of the Relief Church wrote : " The alliance of church and state 
is an ancient political engine." Struthers, op. cit. 382. 

3 V. ante.^ ch. iv. p. 69 fn. 

* The Bill was prepared by the Lord Advocate ; Kay, Orig. Portraits^ 
ii. 119. "Sorry don't agree with you on Ministers' Stipend Bill. All 
against it." Letter of Sir J. Inglis to the Lord Advocate relating to the 
action of the county gentlemen of Midlothian, March 22, 1790. Edin. 
Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500. 


and culture of the clergy, had been far more successful as 
a political instrument. The livings in the gift of the Crown 
had been freely used for party purposes.^ Thus there crept 
into the Church the evils predicted by Hutcheson, who may 
be regarded as the inspirer of the early Moderates. " Instead 
of studying sobriety of manners, piety and diligence, or 
literature," he wrote in 1735, " one or other of which quahties 
are now necessary to recommend the candidates to the favour 
of heritors, elders or presbytery, the candidate's sole study 
will be to stand right in politics, to make his zeal for the 
ministry of state conspicuous ; or by all servile compliance 
with the humour of some great lord who has many churches 
in his gift, whether the humour be virtuous or vicious, to 
secure a presentation." ^ Men of such opposite sympathies 

^ " The Duke lost the election by two votes, but is pretty certain of it 
next time. At the same time, unless the country sees the Duke has the 
influence to procure these trifles the Country Gentlemen only can judge 
of, it is almost impossible for the Duke to bring in friends to administra- 
tion." Letter of the Duchess of Gordon asking for a Crown presentation 
in favour of some prot^g^. H. Dundas, however, recommended Lord 
Sydney to support the nominee of Lord Findlater, the Duke's opponent. 
Scot. Corr. Supp. lix. Jan. 15, 1788. 

2 Quoted by J. M'Cosh, Scottish Philosophy, 66. There are numerous 
references in the official correspondence of the time to Crown presenta- 
tions being made in favour of young men of unimpeachable political 
principles. On Dec. 29, 1792, Lord Ruthven writes as follows to 
H. Dundas in favour of a minister : " I assure you that both in a religious 
and political view he is to be depended upon. He appears to be 
thoroughly well affected to the present Constitution and Government, and 
has distributed many pamphlets to that purpose in his parish, and in his 
religious principles is quiet and remarkably temperate." Scot. Corr. 
vol. vi. Sir J. Colquhoun in recommending a young man who had been 
in his family for ten years, states that " his political principles are such 
that we need not be afraid of him." Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500, 
Dec. 19, 1795. On May 16, 1799, the Rev. Robert Moodie writes to the 
Rev. Dr. Finlayson regarding a vacancy in the parish of Denny. "We 
want a moderate man. You know the many struggles we have had in 
the Presbytery : we should not always be left in a minority as it is now 
in the power of the Crown to give us some relief, and the parish requires 
a firm, steady, loyal man to counteract that spirit of Sedition and Demo- 
cracy which abounds there, more perhaps than in any other parish in this 



as Cockburn and Carlyle of Inveresk agree that the poHcy 
of the Moderates had failed both to attract the aristocracy 
of rank or intellect, and to maintain among the clergy the 
standard of learning which had characterised their more 
immediate predecessors. ^ 

Moreover, the stern enforcement of patronage and the 
political preoccupations of the pulpit tended to lower the 
Church in the eyes of the common people. Somerville 
confesses that his attempts to " counteract anarchical 
principles " among his parishioners "lessened his authority ^ 
and other divines, animadverting on Dundas's conduct with 
regard to the Stipend Augmentation scheme, declared in the 
General Assembly that by their support of Government they 

had risked the friendship of their flocks and their own 
usefulness as pastors." ^ The horror of French infidelity 
healed this breach to some extent, but there were still large 
masses of the population outside all Church influence, especi- 
ally in the rapidly growing towns. This was partly due to 
defects in ecclesiastical organisation, but largely to the spirit 
of the age which deprecated all religious enthusiasm. The 
Church of Scotland did not lend itself to expansion.* It 

neighbourhood." Ibid. Sometimes a mistake was made. A Mr. Garvie 
was recommended for the church at Brechin. His opponents insinuated 
that he was a man of " democratic principles," and he was set aside. 
Thereupon a chorus of protest was raised, and Dundas admitted that he 
had been misled. " A bad case," he observes. Scot. Corr. vol. xvi. and 
Supp. vol. Ixii. Jan. 1798. For the same methods at work in Crown 
appointments to university chairs, v. D. Welsh, Life of T. Brown, 165, 
and an interesting letter of Dundas to Pelham in Pelhain Papers, Brit. 
Mus. Add. MSS. 33, 108, f. 450. 

^ Carlyle MSS., quoted by Graham, Scottish Men of Letters, 99, note ; 
Cockburn, Memorials, 202-4. 
2 Own Life, 267. 

2 " Faithful Service Rewarded," a caricature depicting Dundas astride 
two asses, representing Carlyle and Grieve, who had made the above 
remarks. Kay, Original Portraits, ii. 120. 

Cunningham, Church History of Scotland, ii. 564. 


was difficult to erect new parishes. A few Chapels of Ease 
had been built by manufacturers, but as others had their 
origin in the reluctance of the people to attend the 
ministry of some unpopular presentee," the Assembly, in 
1798, passed an Act regulating the granting of constitutions 
to these chapels, which, according to the Popular Party, 
discouraged further effort in this direction. ^ The parish 
ministers did little to cure the evil, for though probably 
faithful enough in discharging their prescribed duties, most 
of them were absorbed in other pursuits than what 
Shaftesbury called " the passion of saving souls." ^ 

It was one of the results of the French Revolution, that, 
by effecting a change in the temper of the times, it ushered 
in an era of religious activity — an activity which displayed 
itself in missionary enterprise, first abroad and then at 
home. The current ideas of political freedom, according 
to Wameck, a recent historian, contributed to awaken 
this interest. Connected with these was the idea of 
humanity which proclaimed the common rights of men. 
Revolutionary as those ideas were, and little based on 
religion as was the advocacy of common human rights, 
yet they rendered preparatory service to the missionary 
movement by bringing about, in connection with Rousseau's 
ideals of nature, a change in the estimate of non-Christian 
and uncivilised humanity, and by making it materially 
easier for Christian circles to assert the right of all men to 
the Gospel also." ^ Nowhere was the connection of the new 
religious developments with the upheaval in France more 
clearly indicated than in Scotland.* 

^ W. M. Hetherington, Hist, of Church of Scot. 229. 
^Mathieson, op. cit. 211. 

^G. Wameck, Outline of a Hist, of Christian Missions^ 8th edn. trans, 
by G. Robson, 3rd edn. p. 77. 

^ Hume Brown, Hist, of Scot. iii. 392-3. 


The Baptist Missionary Society was founded in England 
in 1792, and the London Missionary Society in 1795. The 
enthusiasm evoked in certain quarters spread to Scotland, 
and in 1796 missionary associations were established in 
Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other towns. In May the subject 
was brought before the General Assembly by the Synods 
of Fife and Moray, which sent in overtures advocating the 
participation of the Church in such work. In the debate 
which ensued. Dr. Hill, the leader of the Moderates, in- 
sinuated that the rules of the missionary associations lent 
themselves to political propagandism. An elder, David 
Boyle, afterwards Lord Justice Clerk, further developed this 
argument. " Observe," he said, " the societies are affiliated, 
they correspond with each other, they look for assistance from 
foreign countries in the very language of many of our seditious 
societies." The overtures were rejected by fifty-eight votes 
to forty-four, and a colourless resolution was adopted 
recommending the brethren to take " all competent measures 
of promoting within their sphere of influence the knowledge 
of the gospel and the inestimable blessings it conveys." ^ 
The fact that such prominent leaders of the Popular Party 
as Sir Henry Moncreiff and Dr. Erskine were members of 
the committee of the Edinburgh Missionary Society probably 
had some effect in bringing about this decision, and the 
charge of sedition was rendered plausible by the part played 
in the same organisation by James Haldane of Airthrey, 

^ Account of the Proceedings and Debate in the General Assembly of the 
Church of Scotland^ May ^7, I7g6. Edin. 1796. Dr. Hill sent this 
pamphlet to the Lord Adocate on March 2, 1797, and it is curious to find 
him writing as follows : " Of Mr. Haldane and his associates I have no 
personal knowledge. I pretend not to judge their motives, or to insinuate 
that the political principles which that gentleman is said to glory in hold- 
ing, have any connection with his present scheme." Edin. Univ. Laing 
MSS. No. 501. In 1829, the Church of Scotland sent Dr. Duff to India, 
and Warneck remarks that, with this exception, " in no Protestant State 
Church have missions been from their inception the concern of the church." 


whose brother Robert had incurred the suspicion of being 
a Democrat. 

Robert Haldane had been " awakened from the sleep of 
spiritual death " by the French Revolution. ^ As we have 
seen, the perusal of the works of Burke, Mackintosh, Priest- 
ley, and others, had led him to look forward to a speedy 
improvement in the affairs of mankind. ^ Though he did 
not become a Friend of the People, he protested against 
the raising of Volunteers at a meeting of the freeholders of 
Stirlingshire in 1794, when he expressed the opinion that 
they would be better employed in studying reforms. He 
was fond of airing his views, and, as a result of private 
discussions with some of the local clergy, he came to believe 
that nothing but a revival of evangelical religion could 
bring about the reign of happiness he desired. When 
politics began to be talked about," he says, " I was led to 
consider everything anew. I eagerly clutched at them as 
a pleasing speculation. As a fleeting phantom, they eluded 
my grasp, but missing the shadow, I caught the substance." 
About the same time, James Haldane, who had retired 
from the command of an East India merchantman, 
adopted the same religious opinions, and the two brothers 
threw themselves with ardour into the cause of missions. 
Robert determined to sell his paternal estate and to 
conduct a band of missionaries to Bengal. As the East 
India Company had shown itself hostile to all such enter- 
prises, he wrote to Henry Dundas, to whom he was distantly 
related, asking him to use his influence as President of the 
Board of Control to obtain the directors' permission.^ 

^The account which follows is based on A. Haldane, T/ie Lives of 
Robert and James Haldane. Lond. 3rd edn. 1853. 

^Ante, ch. iii. p. 60. 

^ In this connection there is a characteristic letter of R. Haldane to 
R. or H. Dundas in Edin. Univ. Laing MSS. No. 501, dated Sept. 28, 



Dundas had already frustrated similar plans of his friend 
Wilberforce, and Haldane's politics provided a ready excuse 
in the present instance. " I could not persuade him," 
says Wilberforce, whose sympathies the brothers had en- 
listed, " though, as I told him, it is on your own grounds 
the best thing you can do. In Scotland such a man is sure 
to create a ferment. Send him therefore into the back 
settlements to let off his pistol in vacuo." ^ Permission was 
refused, and the energies of the Haldanes, turned into other 
channels, soon justified Wilberforce's worldly wisdom. 

In 1796, James Haldane accompanied an English divine 
on a trip through the Highlands. On the way they dis- 
tributed tracts, and so novel was this method of evangelisa- 
tion, that the leaflets were occasionally refused lest they 
should prove to be some of Paine's. In the following year 
he set off to the west of Scotland, taking with him John 
Campbell, who afterwards made his name as an African mis- 
sionary and explorer. Campbell had founded in Edinburgh 
a Sunday school, independent of clerical superintendence, 
and it was to further this movement that the tour was 
undertaken. Sixty Sunday schools resulted from this ex- 
pedition. Haldane now began to preach, and started on a 
series of home mission journeys which extended as far north 
as the Orkneys. By forming the Society for the Propagation 

1796 : "We will bring it before the public, and we have not a doubt but 
we shall interest in our favour all the numerous friends of religion and of 
human happiness, and of every denomination in every part of the country. 
The lively concern they will feel for our success, the numerous petitions 
with thousands of signatures they will present, will so fully express the 
sentiments and wishes of the most virtuous and respectable part of the 
community, that we are confident Government will feel it a duty to comply 
with their request." From a letter of Dr. Porteous to the Lord Advocate, 
Haldane seems to have tried to carry out this threat. Feb. 20, 1797. 

^R. J. and S. Wilberforce, Lt/e of W. Wilberforce^ ii. ch. xiii ; A. 
Haldane, op. cit. 112. 


of the Gospel at Home he was instrumental in organ- 
ising a body of itinerant lay preachers.^ Meanwhile his 
brother, Robert, having sold his estate, had purchased the 
Edinburgh Circus as a temporary meeting place, and in 
1798 he invited Rowland Hill to open it. The oddity and 
humour of this eccentric evangelist attracted great crowds. 
Sometimes he preached in churches, oftener in the open 
air. On his return to England he published a Journal in 
which he denounced the Established clergy as sceptical 
and lukewarm, and the Seceders as blindly intolerant. ^ 

This brought to a head the ill-feeling engendered in all 
ordained preachers throughout the country by the Haldanes 
and their associates.^ The correspondence of Dr. Porteous 
of Glasgow with the Lord Advocate reveals the causes of 
their resentment " Many of us have reason to believe," 
he wrote on January 24, 1797, " that the whole of this 
missionary business grows from a democratical root, and 
that the intention of those who planted it was to get hold 
of the public mind, and hereafter these societies may employ 
its energy as circumstances may direct." In February, 
1798, he professed to be further alarmed. Ten years before, 
Sunday schools had been established to keep educated boys 
in the practice of reading and repeating the catechism. 

^ Aft Account of the Proceedings of the Society for Propagating the 
Gospel at Home^ Edin. 1799, gives extracts from the journals of its 

2 Cunningham, op. cit. ii. 573 ; Rowland "^"i^., Journal of a Tour through 
. . . Parts ofScotla7td, with Remarks 07i the Present State of the Established 
Church of Scotland and the Different Secessions therefrom . . . also so7ne 
Remarks on the Propriety of what is called Itinerant Lay Preaching., 
Lond. 1799 ; A Series of Letters occasiojted by the Late Pastoral Admoni- 
tion., Lond. 1799 ; and Extracts of a Second Tour . . . through Scotland., 
Lond. 1800. 

^ J. Haldane,y<?2/r/2(2/ of a Tour through the Northern Counties of Scot- 
la7id a7id the Orkney Islands. Edin. 1798. 

^ Edi7i. Univ. Laing MSS. Nos. 501 and 500. 



Those of the Haldanes were on a new plan.^ In Glasgow, 
for example, old and young, men and women, boys and 
girls, were invited to attend, and " in place of the former 
simple exercises, a loquacious manufacturer preached and 
prayed with vehemence till a late hour." Though they 
had not directly meddled with politics, yet obliquely they 
attacked religious establishments. Lay preaching was 
another dangerous symptom. " The ministers of the Church 
of Scotland,'' Porteous confessed, have enjoyed ease and 
quiet so long that few of them have directed their studies to 
subjects of this kind ; and as they are not prepared for the 
attack, so I am afraid they are in some danger of giving 
a handle against themselves by an ill-tempered zeal. If 
any method could be fallen on to direct attention to the 
subject of Lay Preaching in a way that would not irritate, 
it would be a very seasonable service, but I am afraid the 
difficulties and perils of meeting a set of enthusiasts will 
prevent it . " This * ' seasonable service ' ' the General Assembly 
of May, 1799, proceeded to perform. It passed an Act 
forbidding the ministers of the Established Church to hold 
communion with any but its authorised licentiates, and it 
also issued a Pastoral Letter to warn the people of the 
danger of religious novelties. " It is much to be lamented," 
so runs this missive, ** that while we are assaulted by false 
principles imparted to us from abroad, there should of late 
have risen among ourselves a set of men whose proceedings 
threaten no small disorder to the country." Missionaries were 
going about acting as universal itinerant preachers, intruding 
themselves into parishes without a call, and erecting Sunday 

^The first Sunday schools, founded in 1787 on the model of those of 
Raikes, were countenanced by the authorities. A procession of magis- 
trates celebrated their institution in Glasgow. Scots. Mag. Dec. 1787 ; 
Glasgow Advert. Jan. i, 1790. But they were not " independent of clerical 



schools, which they committed to the charge of persons 
notoriously disaffected to the civil constitution ; and secret 
meetings were alienating the affections of the people from 
their own pastors.^ A specially appointed committee 
further recommended the revival of certain obsolete 
statutes which placed all teachers under the supervision 
of the Church. 

It is significant that the Seceders were equally antagon- 
istic to the new movement. In 1796, the Anti-Burgher 
Synod expressed its disapproval of the lay element in 
missionary societies, and in 1798 unanimously declared 
lay-preaching to be without warrant from the Word of 
God.'' 2 The Cameronians in Glasgow excommunicated 
some of their members who had attended a missionary 
service conducted by a pastor not of their own sect.^ In 
1797, the Relief Church selected two of its ministers for 
mission work in the Highlands.^ They encountered the 
same opposition as the Haldanes.^ One of them, Neil 
Douglas, had been a delegate to the third Convention of 
the Friends of the People.^ Before leaving Dundee for his 
new duties, he was commissioned by a friend to arrange for 
the printing of a pamphlet. It was deemed seditious on 
publication, and its author prosecuted ; and Douglas, on 
his return from his labours in Argyllshire, was astonished 
to find himself pointedly referred to by the Lord Advocate 

^ Cunningham, op. cit, ii. 573 et seq. There is a caricature of the 
Rev. Dr. Moodie dispersing a Sunday school in Kay's Orig. Portraits, 
i. 356. 

^M'Kerrow, op. cit. ii. 49, 62. ^A. Haldane, op. cit. 260. 

^Struthers, op. cit. ch. xxii. passifn. 

^ N. Douglas, Journal of a Mission to part of the Highlands of Scotland 
in 1797. Edin. 1799. 

• But not to its successor the British Convention, as Cockburn states in 
Exam, of Trials for Sedition, ii. 192. See ante, ch. vii. p. 147 fn. Douglas 
was tried for sedition in 1817. Cockburn, ibid. 


as the real culprit. When three other missionaries were 
sent out by the Relief Church, this incident was used against 
them, and the Synod, probably to save its reputation, 
passed a decree against unlicensed preaching. ^ 

Meanwhile, wider currency was being given to the political 
motives imputed to the Haldanes and their fellow- workers. 
In 1797, Professor Robison of Edinburgh University pub- 
lished his Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and 
Governments in Europe,^ in which he endeavoured to prove 
that the general unrest was due to the machinations of the 
lUuminati, the Free Masons, and other secret societies. In 
surveying the progress of their opinions in Britain he 
studiously identified the Haldanes with the Unitarians. 
" I grieve," he wrote, " that Dr. Priestley has left any of his 
friends and abettors among us. A very eminent one said 
in company a few days ago that he would willingly wade 
to the knees in blood to overturn the establishment of the 
Kirk of Scotland." The reference to missions in India, 
with which the paragraph concluded, pointed to the laird 
of Airthrey. In the third edition, the author, owing to a 
vigorous protest from Robert Haldane, modified the state- 
ment, but it was singled out for comment in a notice of 
a book on religious establishments, which appeared in the 
Anti- Jacobin Review, May, 1799. The editor subsequently 
printed Haldane's indignant expostulation, but retaliated 
by quoting from James Haldane's Journal the invectives 
which he had directed against the Established Church.^ 

By sending a copy of the Pastoral Letter to the sheriffs- 
depute of counties and the chief magistrates of all royal 
burghs, the General Assembly had shown a desire to invoke 

^ S truth ers, op. cit. 400-5. 

2Edin. 1797, 3rd edn. corrected, 1798. For a criticism of the book, 
V. W. Beattie, Life of Campbell^ ii. 117. 

^Anti-Jacobin Review^ iii. 341-5. 


the aid of the civil power. ^ At the same time the Duke of 
AthoU appealed to the Home Secretary for more stringent 
measures. The new sectarians, he wrote, were engaged in 
even deeper plans than that of undermining established 
religion. They were filling the country with meetings under 
the name of Sunday schools, where the lowest of the people 
became teachers, and were instilling into the minds of the 
rising generation the most pernicious doctrines, both civil 
and religious. " I have no doubt," he concluded, ..." that 
energetic measures will be taken under the authority of 
Parliament, to annihilate the further progress of unlicensed 
missionaries and free schools, whether under the auspices 
of Mr. Haldane or any other enthusiastic and designing 
man whatever." ^ Jhe Bill which was being actually 
prepared by the Government to restrain the activities of 
the Methodists and other Dissenters in England, would have 
been equally disastrous to the followers of the Haldanes 
in Scotland. But the remonstrances which Wilberforce 
addressed to Pitt were successful in averting the threatened 
blow.3 The proposed legislation thoroughly alarmed Robert 
Haldane, and while the General Assembly was sitting in 
May, 1800, he published his Address to the Public concern- 
ing Politics and Plans lately adopted to promote Religion 
in Scotland} This candid explanation of his principles 

i"[This] speaks a language too explicit to be misunderstood." Neil 
Douglas, op. cit. 29. J. Haldane and Campbell were actually arrested in 
Argyleshire in 1 800. Escorted by a party of Volunteers, they were taken 
before the Sheriff, who liberated them. A. Haldane, op. cit. 287. 

2 Duke of Atholl to Duke of Portland, London, May 20, 1799, Edin. 
Univ. Laing MSS. No. 500. On May 24, I799(?), the former writes to 
the Lord Advocate : " An Act of Parliament is the only remedy to check 
and restrain practices which will otherwise lay a sure foundation for over- 
turning in the minds of the rising generation every constitutional and 
loyal principle." Ibid. 

3 A. Haldane, op. cit. 279 ; Life of Wilberforce, ii. 361. 
*Two editions, Edin. 1800. 


disarmed criticism, and henceforth the evangeHsts were 
allowed to carry on their work, free from official censure. ^ 
Although internal dissensions robbed the movement of 
much of its original force, later ecclesiastical historians have 
traced to the rude shock communicated by the Haldanes to 
the Church of Scotland, the beginning of that evangelical 
zeal which was to be one of its chief characteristics in the 
nineteenth century. ^ 

Mt is interesting to note that Hans Nielsen Hauge, who is credited 
with the revival of evangelical religion in Norway, experienced the same 
difficulties as the Haldanes. Like them he began itinerant lay preaching 
in 1797, and so roused the indignation of the state clergy that they 
examined over six hundred witnesses with a view to prosecuting him. In 
1804 he was thrown into prison for holding religious meetings contrary to 
law — the Konventikel-placat. Art. by M. J. Philip in the Missionary 
Record of the United Free Church of Scotland^ April, 191 1. 

2 Cunningham, op. cit. ii. 577. In 1816 Robert Haldane carried on 
religious work in Geneva and Montauban. Merle d'Aubigne, the historian, 
was one of his converts. In France, Haldane was denounced to the 
Minister of the Interior as a firebrand, but after inquiry the Minister 
declared that "it mattered not to him whether Mr. Haldane taught 
Calvinism or any other istn^ provided it was not DeismP A. Haldane, 
op, cit. 482-3. Deism was evidently associated in the minds of the now 
triumphant royalists with republican principles. 


CONCLUSION. 1802-1832. 

The year 1802 marks the end of the direct influence of the 
French Revolution on Scotland. " Somewhat less was said 
about Jacobinism, though still too much, and sedition had 
gone out," Cockburn records in his Memorials. " Napoleon's 
obvious progress towards military despotism opened the 
eyes of those who used to see nothing but liberty in the 
French Revolution ; and the threat of invasion, while it 
combined all parties in the defence of the country, raised 
the confidence of the people in those who trusted them with 
arms, and gave them the pleasure of playing at soldiers. 
Instead of Jacobinism, Invasion became the word." ^ This 
new preoccupation is reflected in the correspondence of 
Lord Advocate Hope, who, having suppressed the United 
Scotsmen, was now engrossed in schemes for opposing the 
landing of the French. ^ The Volunteers became a patriotic 

^ Memorials^ 164. 

2 In 1 801, Hope succeeded Robert Dundas who was appointed Lord Chief 
Baron of the Court of Exchequer. For his famous regimental orders 
of October 18, 1803, v. Cockburn, op. cit. Append. " I have the pleasure 
to add," he writes in one of his numerous letters to the Home Secretary, 
" that we have begun to fit out the Kinghorn Passage Boats (nine in 
number) to carry i8 pound Carronades and fifty Herring Boats to carry 
12 pound Carronades at our own expense. If this shall be connected 
with a small squadron of larger vessels, and the whole placed under the 
command of an active and enterprising officer, I think we shall have 
nothing to fear." Scot. Corr. vol. xviii. Oct. 22, 1803. 


rather than a poHtical organisation, and Whig and Tory 
vied with one another in discharging mihtary duties. The 

False Alarm " revealed, among all classes of the community, 
a spirit of loyalty which put an end, lor some time to come, 
to apprehensions of disaffection. ^ 

In Scotland, as in England, the French Revolution had 
retarded the progress of liberal opinion. The dread of 
innovation had frustrated the efforts of the burgh and 
county reformers. This was caused partly by the horrors 
of the Reign of Terror abroad, and partly by the 
enthusiasm with which French principles had been 
welcomed by the industrial classes at home. Yet, as has 
been shown, it is with this momentous upheaval in France 
that the political awakening of Scotland begins. From 
1792 there is no complete break in the political life of the 
nation. Until the victory of reform in 1832, the period 
from 1792 to 1794, during which the excitement had reached 
its highest pitch, was regarded by Tory, Democrat, and 
Whig, as marking an epoch in the history of the country. 
The Tories, strong in the belief that reform and revolution 
were identical, and presuming on a continuance of the 
national support extended to them during a time of crisis, 
sought to perpetuate the system of government associated 
with the name of Dundas. The lower classes, irritated 
by repressive and harsh laws, still based their hopes 
on universal suffrage and annual Parliaments, which, to 
them at least, were the legacy of the French Revolution ; 
and the Whigs, sharing with these extremists their 
detestation of judicial cruelties and administrative abuses, 

^Even Edie Ochiltree, the gaberlunzie in T/ie A ntigtiary (chapter xliv.), 
was " as ready to fight for his dish as the laird for his land." There 
were probably few who shared John Younger's opinion that "only the 
rich had any reason to be patriotic." A. Lang, Border Edn. of T/ie 
Antiquary^ p. 33, Lond. 1898 ; Autobiography of John Younger^ Shoe- 
maker, St. Boswells, chap. xix. Kelso, 1881. 



bent all their energies on effecting moderate and specific 

As long as Britain was engaged in war abroad, there was 
little prospect of accomplishing reform at home. In the 
Edinburgh Review, however, the younger Scottish Whigs 
found an admirable medium for preparing the ground for 
the future triumph of their party. The first number 
appeared in October, 1802, at a time when the fear of 
Jacobinism had abated. The moderate tone of its politics 
tended at first to conciliate public opinion. " You will 
not be surprised," wrote Homer, " that we have given a 
good deal of disappointment by the temperate air of our 
politics. Nothing short of blood and atheism and democracy 
was predicted by some wise and fair ones as the necessary 
production of our set." ^ The set " consisted, among 
others, of Jeffrey, Sydney Smith, Brougham, and Horner 
himself, and under their guidance the Review soon became 
an uncompromising advocate of Whig principles. To its 
influence on the younger members of the Scottish Bar, 
which provided most of the active politicians of both parties, 
none bore more striking testimony than the second Lord 
Melville. " The fact is/' he wrote to Viscount Sidmouth 
in 1818, " that Mr. Jeffrey and the Edinburgh Review gang 
. . . gathered round them, by their talents and plausible 
jargon, a number of young men at the Bar of their own 
standing, and whose connections would have led them 
naturally into more proper society and modes of thinking." ^ 
But its real importance lay in its appeal to a wider public. 
Within a few years, it was an acknowledged force not only 
in Scotland but in England, and brought about the founding 

^ L. Horner, Memoirs and Correspondence of Francis Horner^ M.P, 
i. 204. 

2 " Had gathered," he wrote, as he beHeved that the influence of the 
Review was declining. Scot. Corr. vol. xxix. June 19, i8i8. 


of the Quarterly Review, and later, of Blackwood' s Edinburgh 
Magazine, in the interests of the Tories. 

The success of these juniors was regarded with consider- 
able jealousy by their seniors ; and when, in 1806, the 
Whigs found themselves unexpectedly in office, the former 
complained that they were neglected. Jeffrey offended the 
Earl of Lauderdale, the new " Manager," by an article on 
his work on political economy ; and a sinecure created 
for Dugald Stewart, and a proposed reform of the Court 
of Session, intended, according to Cockburn, to provide 
appointments for partisans, were condemned by the 
younger Scottish Whigs. Nevertheless, the change of 
administration was regarded by one of them as a most 
salutary event for Scotland." The Whigs were roused from 
despair, and it convinced their opponents " that they were 
not positively immortal." ^ 

The same lesson was more strikingly enforced in 1805 by 
the impeachment of Henry Dundas, who, in 1802, had been 
raised to the peerage with the title of Viscount Melville and 
Baron Dunira. Melville was acquitted of the charges of 
peculation preferred against him, and he was again sworn of 
the Privy Council from which his name had been erased. 
But he was never again in office, and shattered health and 
broken reputation prevented his further active participation 
in public affairs. Yet, as the future was to show, the 
rejoicing of his political adversaries was premature. The 
managership descended, as if by hereditary right, to his 
son. For the next twenty years Robert Dundas was 
to be consulted on every Government appointment in 
Scotland, and only his inferior abilities, political and social, 
were to prevent him from exercising over the destinies of 
his country as complete a sway as his predecessor. In 1807 
he was President of the Board of Control, but it was not 
^ Cockburn, Me7tiorials^ 1 83-191. 



till 1812, a year after his father's death, that his new office 
of First Lord of the Admiralty gave him Cabinet rank. 

Three years before the peace of 18 15, the industrial 
classes began once more to assert themselves. Baffled in 
their efforts to obtain Parliamentary reform, they now 
endeavoured to better their condition by means of the 
existing laws. At the beginning of 1812, the cotton spinners 
in Glasgow and the vicinity applied to the magistrates to 
fix by their official capacity, reasonable prices for weaving 
fabrics of cotton cloth, agreeably to the spirit and letter 
of the Acts of Parliament stated in their petition.'* The 
magistrates, in order to avoid any turbulent demonstration, 
requested the workers to appoint a committee to present 
the petition and confer with their employers. Uncertain 
as to the law, the authorities took the opinion of counsel, 
who declared that the Justices of the Peace had no powers 
to regulate wages. Nevertheless, the spinners, acting on 
the advice of Jeffrey and other Whig advocates, asked the 
Justices to fix a list of prices. They agreed ; but against 
this decision the manufacturers appealed. The Court of 
Session upheld the jurisdiction of the Justices, and remitted 
to them the task of drawing up the rates of wages. After a 
lengthy hearing of witnesses, a list of rates was prepared and 
declared by the Justices to be moderate and reasonable." 
The manufacturers refused to pay according to these rates, 
and the employees, to the number of some 40,000, came out 
on strike.^ 

Justice now demanded that the employers should be forced 
to obey the law. Unfortunately the Government took quite 
a different view. Writing to Sidmouth on July 4, Lord 
Advocate Colquhoun had reported the existence of an 
association of weavers, who maintained a correspondence 

1 J. Dillon to Sidmouth, Scot. Corr. vol. xxii. Dec. 18, 181 2. W. Cunning- 
ham, The Growth of Eiiglish Industry and Cojn7nerce, iii. 638-9. 



with similar organisations in England. Though no acts of 
violence had been committed, yet the societies " might 
easily be made instrumental for accomphshing seditious or 
treasonable designs." ^ During the strike it was discovered 
that Margarot, the only victim of 1794 who returned to 
his native land from Botany Bay, had paid a visit to Glasgow 
and other towns in Scotland, had been in touch with 
some of his former associates of the British Convention, 
and had been seen in the company of some of the weavers. 
His visit was connected in the minds of the officials with 
the propaganda of the Hampden Club, founded by Major 
Cartwright, the leading spirit of the former Society for 
Constitutional Information, to agitate for drastic measures 
of reform. 2 Under these circumstances, the Lord Advocate, 
whose anxieties were increased by rumours of intrigues and 
conspiracies artfully circulated by the manufacturers, deter- 
mined to crush the whole movement. The houses of the 
delegates were entered illegally,^ and search was made for 
incriminating documents. Finally the leaders of what 
Cockburn calls " the most extensive and peaceable com- 
bination of workmen that had ever appeared in this part 
of the kingdom " * were charged with contravening the 
Combination Acts of 1799 and 1800, and sentenced to 
eighteen months' imprisonment ^~a punishment which could 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. xxii. 

^Ibid. vol. xxii. Nov. 4 to Dec. 25, 18 12. Margarot survived till 181 5. 
Skirving died at Port Jackson on March 9, 1796, and Gerrald three days 
later. Palmer set out for England in January, 1800, but died at Guam, 
one of the Ladrone Islands, in June, 1802. 

3 Ld. Adv. to Sidmouth, " Private," Jan. 2, 1813. 

* Memorials^ 281. 

^" In case of any dispute between masters and men, or of a strike, the 
employers were able to have recourse to this Act at any moment, and 
summarily crush all opposition." Cunningham, op. cit. 736. Moreover, 
sect. 17 of 39 and 40 Geo. III. c. 106 rendered combinations among 
employers also illegal. Cunningham, op. cit. 732. 



not be reconciled with the recognition of the cotton 
spinners' association both by the Justices and the Court of 
Session. As a result of the strike, the clauses in the 
Statute of Artificers authorising magistrates to fix the 
wages of labour were repealed in 1815. 

Nothing was more calculated to render the industrial 
classes conscious of their utter helplessness, and, in the 
same year, a new com law increased the irritation. During 
the war the landed proprietors had benefited by the high 
price of corn, but the prospects of peace threatened to involve 
them in ruin. By the Corn Law of 1815, the importation of 
foreign corn was prohibited as long as the price of wheat 
did not exceed 80s. a quarter. " The policy was only in the 
obvious interest of a class,*' says Dr. Cunningham, " and 
as it could be depicted as demanding the sacrifice of the 
masses of the population, it was resented accordingly." ^ 
Riots broke out in Glasgow, Perth, Dundee, and other 
manufacturing centres. Inflammatory bills were posted up 
in Edinburgh.^ The Glasgow petition to the Commons is 
said to have been forwarded to every town of note in 
Scotland. " Your petitioners/' it ran, " were always led 
to consider your Honourable House as the Constitutional 
Guardian of our Rights and Liberties, and as the Organ 
of Public Opinion ; but the marked disregard which, on this 
recent and momentous occasion, has been shown to the 
voice of the nation, constitutionally expressed, has excited 
in them sentiments of a very opposite kind, and demon- 
strated beyond the possibility of contradiction, that in your 
Honourable House, the Representation of the People is 
radically defective." ^ 

Owing to the resentment caused by such partisan adminis- 
tration and legislation, and the distress occasioned by the 

1 Op. cit. 7SO. Scot Corr. vol. xxv. March 18, 31 ; April 21, 1815. 

3 Ibid. vol. xxv. April 21. 


industrial crisis which followed on the close of the war, 
the extreme doctrines of Parliamentary reform which had 
been popular among artisans in 1793 received a fresh lease 
of life. The writings of Cobbett, now a Radical pamphleteer, 
were widely disseminated in the west. Major Cartwright, 
the agent of the Hampden Club, made a tour through the 
manufacturing districts of Scotland, advocating universal 
suffrage and annual Parliaments, and as a result of his 
exertions, numerous societies and committees were formed. ^ 
" I have no hesitation in saying," wrote the provost of 
Dunfermline to the Lord Advocate regarding an attempt 
to hold such meetings in the town, " that reform is merely 
a pretext, and that the present movement originates from 
the recent visit of Major Cartwright to this vicinity and 
other incendiaries employed by the Hampden Club, and that 
the object is nothing less than revolution or rebellion ; and 
what strengthens this opinion — at least in the view of the 
people here — is that several of them who were particularly 
active in the seditious transactions of 1793 have been the 
first to step forward on this occasion." ^ In Renfrewshire, 
the leader of the reformers was said to be Archibald Hastie, 
a prominent member of the British Convention.^ Richmond, 
a weaver who had been outlawed in connection with the 
troubles of 1812, now entered the Government service as 
a spy. As a result of his investigations, he reported that 
*' secret committees of the disaffected, consisting chiefly of 

^ Cartwright visited Greenock and the coast of Ayr ; Renfrew, Paisley, 
StirHng, and Alloa ; Dunfermline, Newburgh, and Perth ; Coupar-Angus, 
Forfar, Brechin ; Crail, St. Andrews, and Aberdeen ; was twice at Stone- 
haven, Inverbervie, Montrose, Dundee, Cupar-Fife, Kirkcaldy, Lanark, 
and Hamilton ; and thrice at Edinburgh and Glasgow. A Collection of 
Reports of the Proceedings of the Hanipde?! Club. (Lond. 18 14- 1822.) 
Brit. Mus. 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. xxvi. Dec. 9, 18 16. 

3 Ibid. Dec. 22 ; v. ante^ ch. viii. p. 166 fn. 



the ringleaders of the combination in 1812, and of such 
members of the seditious societies of 1793 as were still alive, 
had been formed in different quarters of Glasgow, Ayrshire, 
Dumbarton, and Stirlingshire " ; that delegates from 
England had visited the Glasgow committee ; and that this 
committee, after discussing the organisation of the United 
Irishmen, and of the " traitors in Scotland in 1795," had 
resolved to adopt the plan of the former, so as to get together 
a disciplined force and all the arms within reach. ^ Yet the 
majority of the societies were quite open in their proceedings, 
and the meetings held under their auspices were for the 
purpose of preparing petitions in support of Sir Francis 
Burdett's motion in the House of Commons. ^ Nevertheless, 
the Lord Advocate, like his predecessors, was convinced 
that the reformers were revolutionaries, and further dis- 
coveries by his spies confirmed his suspicions. The members 
of the secret committees, he was informed, were being 
" initiated " by taking an oath which bound them " to try 
by all means in their power, moral and physical, to endeavour 
to obtain universal suffrage and annual Parliaments." ^ 

Meanwhile, riots in London, and the insult offered to the 
Prince Regent on his return from opening Parliament on 
January 28, 1817, had created wide-spread alarm in England, 
and the Ministiy proceeded, as Pitt had done under similar 
circumstances in 1795, to introduce repressive measures. 
One Bill suppressed seditious meetings and the other sus- 

^ Scot. Corr. vol. xxvi. Dec. 25, 1816. 

'-^ Ld. Adv. to Sidmouth, Jan. 27, 1817, Scot. Corr. vol. xxvii. At a 
meeting held in the Relief Church, Kilbarchan, on December 21, 1816, 
one of the speakers said : " A mental revolution has taken place which 
the ratio regiim^ the logic of legitimacy, the point of the bayonet cannot 
counteract. ... A spark was kindled at the French Revolution which 
the enemies of freedom think they have extinguished, but still it burns, 
and every fresh occurrence fans the flame." Printed report forwarded to 
Sidmouth by the Lord Advocate, June 2, 181 7. 

3 Scot. Corr. vol. xxvi. Jan. 26 ; vol. xxvii. Jan. 31. 



pended the Habeas Corpus Act till the following July. 
These proposals aroused keen opposition, and during the 
debate on the latter Bill, the House seemed disposed to 
question its necessity, until the Lord Advocate of Scotland, 
in a maiden speech, read, at the request of the Cabinet, 
the secret oath of the Glasgow committee. A deep im- 
pression was made on the listeners, and the Bill was passed. ^ 
Numerous arrests were made in Scotland in connection 
with the agitation. The first to be brought to trial were 
those who had openly committed what was then considered 
sedition. A weaver named M'Laren was accused of having 
delivered a violent speech in Kilmarnock, and Baird, a 
shopkeeper, of having printed it. 2 In the days of Braxfield, 
a sentence of transportation would have been a foregone 
conclusion ; but Lord Gillies, who now occupied his place on 
the bench, was a Whig, and the Whig counsel who defended 
the prisoners were able to procure for them a satisfactory 
trial. Sentences of six months' imprisonment were imposed. 
The case against Neil Douglas, a prominent reformer of 
1792, now a Universalist preacher, broke down completely.^ 
Among other charges, he was indicted with having drawn 
a parallel between the Prince Regent and Belshazzar — 
in many respects only too true — but he was unanimously 
acquitted by the jury. The trial of M'Kinlay, a weaver, 
involved more serious issues. At first the Lord Advocate 
preferred against him a charge of high treason on account of 
his having administered unlawful oaths, but, owing to the 
learned attack of Whig counsel, he was forced to draw up 
another indictment. Again the Crown officials were defeated 
on points of criminal law, and again the indictment was 

^ Omond, Lives of the Lord Advocates^ ii. 238 ; Hansard^ xxxv. 729-30. 

2 State Trials^ xxxiii. ; Cockburn, Exam, of Trials for S edit. ii. 177 et seq. 

^ Ibid, xxxiii. 633 et seq, ; Cockburn, op. cit. ii. 192 et seq.\ v. ante^ chap. x. 
p. 210. 



altered. " The delay which has arisen in these cases," 
wrote the Lord Advocate to Sidmouth on June 4, has 
given me the greatest uneasiness, and my only consolation 
is that it has proceeded altogether from the Court, which, 
I cannot help saying, has shewn a want of nerve that, had 
it belonged to the Judges in the year 1795, would have gone 
far indeed to the destruction of the Government." ^ These 
proceedings led to a discussion in the Commons, even 
Finlay, the Tory member for Glasgow, denouncing the Lord 
Advocate for incompetence. ^ At last M'Kinlay was brought 
up for trial on July 23. After strenuous efforts, the law 
officers of the Crown had succeeded in inducing John 
Campbell, one of the prisoners lodged in Edinburgh Castle, 
to turn King's evidence. When his examination in court 
began, he was asked the formal question if he had been 
promised any reward for coming forward as a witness. 

Yes," he answered. By whom," was the next question. 
" By that gentleman," he replied, pointing to the advocate- 
depute. " The judges," says Cockburn, one of the nine 
Whig counsel for the defence, " frowned on the man as if 
they would have eaten him on the spot." ^ The case 
against the prisoners collapsed, and although the judges 
declared their conviction that a conspiracy had existed, 
there was a prevalent idea that the Government had grossly 
exaggerated it. This trial, like those of Muir and Palmer, 
occasioned debates in Parliament, but Lord Hamilton's 
motion that the record of the court be laid before the House 
was defeated by a large majority.^ 

1 Scot. Corr. vol. xxviii. On July 18, he reported that only Gillies was 
against the relevancy of the indictment. "As his character was eulogised 
by Brougham in the House of Commons, I had no doubt that this result 
was to be expected." 

2 Omond, op. cit. ii. 243 ; Hansard^ xxxvi. 1078- 1081. 

^ Memorials^ 285. * Omond, op. cit. ii. 252-3. 



Another " blunder " on the part of the Lord Advocate 
revived the whole question of burgh reform. In 18 17, the 
election of the Town Council of Montrose was declared void, 
owing to a failure to comply with its " sett." Following 
the precedent established by Henry Dundas in the case of 
Stirling in 1781, Maconochie issued a new charter for the 
burgh. 1 According to its provisions, all the burgesses were 
to vote in the first election, and in future the corporation 
was to consist, among others, of the Deacon of the Trade 
Incorporations, and of six of the merchants who were to 
be appointed annually by the Guild Merchant. " The effect 
of this change," wrote the Lord Advocate to Sidmouth, 
" was to throw the election of the magistrates and council 
more into the hands of the corporation at large than it had 
been before, and as an enemy to all extension of this descrip- 
tion, I certainly felt adverse to comply with the wish of the 
petitioners." But, not desiring to act in opposition to the 

unanimous wish of the whole parties concerned," he 
thought it advisable to make the concession. The burgh 
reformers immediately seized the opportunity to renew their 
agitation. Meetings were held in Edinburgh and other towns 
to prepare petitions to the Prince Regent requesting altera- 
tions in their respective setts similar to those granted to 
Montrose. 2 It was at this juncture that Fletcher wrote 
his Memoir on the history of the movement since 1782, and 
that some of the official documents of the same period 
were reprinted. The Government, alarmed at the storm 
they had unwittingly raised, refused to grant a poll warrant 
to the burghs of Inverness and Aberdeen, whose elections 

^ Ld. Adv. to Sidmouth, Nov. 2, 181 7, Sco/. Corr. vol. xxviii. ; Cockburn, 
Memorials^ 275. 

2 The Guild Brethren of Inverness on Dec. i, 1817, passed a vote of 
thanks to the Lord Advocate " for his recommendation of the liberal 
constitution recently granted to the citizens of Montrose." 




were also declared invalid, and renewed their charters on 
the old principle of self-election ; and the Court of Session 
upheld the action of the Crown.^ In 1819, Lord Archibald 
Hamilton succeeded in obtaining a committee of the 
Commons to inquire into the state of the Scottish burghs, 
and its report showed that the contentions of the reformers 
were substantially correct. Three years later, he proposed 
the abolition of the existing system of municipal govern- 
ment. The Lord Advocate resisted this change on the 
ground that it would involve Parliamentary reform ; but, 
as a concession to public opinion, he brought in a Bill 
authorising burgesses to call corrupt magistrates before the 
Exchequer Court. As the system of self -election was still 
maintained, this Act did not satisfy the reformers, and such 
piece-meal legislation only drew further attention to the 
reality of those long-standing abuses which were to be 
sv/ept away by the Municipal Reform Act of 1833.2 

This activity of the burgh reformers coincided with fresh 
signs of unrest among the industrial classes. By August, 
1819, large numbers of artisans were out of employment. 
Numerous meetings in favour of universal suffrage and 
annual Parliaments were held throughout the manufacturing 
districts, especially in Glasgow and Paisley.^ Wooler's 
Gazette, the Black Dwarf, and the pamphlets of Cobbett 
were reported to be widely circulated among the " Radicals," 

^ Lord Melville, who, as usual, was consulted, wrote to Sidmouth on 
November 8, 1817 : " The having been led into one error at Montrose is 
no reason why we should repeat it in the other burghs. . . . There is 
no part of the United Kingdom that has prospered more than North 
Britain for above a century past, with the exception of a small mistake 
we made in 1745, and I have no relish for experimental changes by 
wholesale." Scof. Corr. vol. xxviii. 

2 Omond, o/>. cit. ii. 270-1. 

3 At a Paisley meeting a Cap of Liberty was placed on the chairman's 
head. Scot. Corr. vol. xxxi. Oct. 30, 18 19. 



as the extremists were now beginning to be called. ^ To 
prepare for emergencies, additional troops were drafted into 
Scotland, and the former corps of Volunteers were re- 
organised. Yet the system of police in Glasgow was so 
defective, and the magistrates so prone to take alarm, that 
Lord Advocate Rae, Maconochie's successor, deemed it 
advisable to send Captain Brown of the Edinburgh force to 
investigate the situation. Writing to Rae on September 
19, he stated that nothing serious was to be anticipated. 
The riots in Glasgow and Paisley, the immediate causes of 
apprehension, were " the entire work of a gang of resolute 
blackguards." The reformers disapproved of these dis- 
orders, according to two of his agents who had joined their 
committee. They wished to move with caution, as they 
did not think the country ripe for reform. There was no 
military training going on, and " no arming in general." The 
Radicals, however, were very much against the clergy, who 
were " looked upon as the tools of the Government in oppress- 
ing the people." ^ During the months of October and 
December, the Radicals in Scotland, as in England, organised 
huge open-air demonstrations, and on December 9, Captain 
Brown wrote to Rae that he had definite information that 
they were about to rise in revolt ; but although " there 
might be a bit of a brush — rather desirable than otherwise 
— it could not continue long or be on a very extensive 
scale." ^ 

The uneasiness thus aroused in official circles both in 
England and Scotland, led to the passing of the repressive 
code known as the Six Acts, directed against the possession 

^Ld. Adv. to Sidmouth, Sept. 27, 18 19, Scot. Corr. vol. xxx. '■'■WooleT^s 
Gazette and Black Dwarf have created more disaffection than all others 
with the exception of Cobbett and Hunt." Anon, letter from Forfar, 
April 7, 1820. 

2 Scot. Corr. vol. xxx. ^ Ibid. vol. xxxi. 



of arms, the printing of seditious libels, and the holding 
of large meetings. In February, 1820, the authorities in 
Scotland arrested twenty-seven delegates of the Glasgow 
central committee, as they had received secret intelligence 
that arrangements had been made for a simultaneous rising 
in both countries. But it was not till April i that *'An 
Address to the Inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland," 
purporting to be issued by the " Committee of Organisation 
for forming a Provisional Government," heralded the revolt. 
" Roused from that torpid state in which we have been sunk 
for so many years," it began, " we are at length compelled 
from the extremity of our sufferings, and the contempt 
heaped upon our Petitions for redress, to assert our Rights 
at the hazard of our lives. . . . Let us show to the world 
that we are not that Lawless, Sanguinary Rabble, which 
our Oppressors would persuade the higher circles we are, 
but a Brave and Generous People determined to be free. 
Liberty or Death is our Motto, and we have sworn to return 
home in triumph — or return no more.'* All workmen were 
therefore called upon to desist from labour on and after 
April I, so as to be able to " attend wholly to the recovery 
of their rights." ^ The bill was placarded on the walls 
throughout Glasgow, and for many miles around it, and the 
artisans, some 60,000 in number, obeyed its injunction. In 
Glasgow, where the military were mustered as if for a siege, 
everything pointed to a catastrophe. April 5, the day fixed 
for the rising, found thousands of troops drawn up in the 
streets, but the only disturbance that took place was an 
encounter in the evening between the cavalry and three 
hundred of the Radicals. On the morning of the same day, 

^ Ld. Provost to Sidmouth, April 2, 1820, Scot. Corr. vol. xxxii. P. 
Mackenzie affirmed that he proved in 1832 that the placard was printed 
by one Fulton, who received two pounds from Richmond the spy for doing 
so. Re?nmiscences^ i. 135 ; ii. chap. xxxi. 



between forty and fifty of the latter had left the city to 
escort a party of their friends expected from Carron in 
Stirlingshire. On the way they stopped one of the 
yeomanry then patrolling the country in large numbers. 
He immediately warned the officer commanding a detach- 
ment of Hussars stationed at Kilsyth. The Hussars and 
some of the local yeomanry set off in pursuit, and overtook 
the rebels at Bonnymuir. After a short skirmish, the 
Radicals fled, four of them being wounded and nineteen 
taken prisoners. ^ Two days later, Rae wrote to Sidmouth 
that the greater part of the operatives had returned to 
work. Thus ended the last attempt in Scotland to obtain 
redress of grievances by force of arms. A commission of 
Oyer and Terminer sat at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumbarton, 
Paisley, and Ayr, to try forty-seven persons who had 
been apprehended. Most of them were liberated, and only 
three, Wilson, Baird, and Hardie, suffered the extreme 
penalty of the law. The Government, as was natural, made 
the most of the " Radical War," as it was called, but did 
nothing to alleviate those hardships of the lower classes 
which had been the real cause of the desperate enterprise. 

The Radical War was as fatal to the hopes of the extrem- 
ists as Watt's conspiracy in 1794 ; but in 1820 there existed 
a growing body of moderate reformers whose efforts could 
no longer be thwarted by the bugbear of revolution. Their 
strength in "the very citadel of Toryism " was revealed by the 
famous Pantheon meeting held in Edinburgh in December of 
the same year, as a result of which, some 17,000 adult males 
signed a petition to the King to dismiss his Ministers. The 
ostensible cause of this, the first political gathering in the 
Capital since the " Reign of Terror," was the part played by 

^ Scots. Mag. 1820, new series, vi. p. 377. At Greenock an attempt to 
rescue five prisoners taken by the Port-Glasgow Volunteers led to a riot 
in which six persons were killed. Ibid. 



the Government in supporting the divorce proceedings 
against the Queen ; but its real significance lay in the open 
hostility displayed towards existing powers. "A new day 
dawned on the official seat of Scotch intolerance," says 
Cockburn.^ Further evidence of the influence exerted by 
public opinion is to be found in a series of law reforms, 
which, though eventually effected by the Tories, were due 
to the indefatigable crusade carried on by the Edinburgh 
Review. In 1808, the Court of Session had been reorganised 
in two divisions, and seven years later, a jury court for 
civil cases was established, thereby inaugurating an 
improvement which had been urged by many of the 
political societies in 1792. In State criminal cases, the 
Justiciary Court was still able to inflict excessive punish- 
ments. Thus in 1820, Gilbert Macleod, the editor of the 
Glasgow Radical organ, the Spirit of the Union, was convicted 
of sedition and transported for five years — a sentence im- 
possible in England ; for an Act of 1819 only inflicted trans- 
portation for a second offence, and even then allowed the 
culprit forty days to put himself into voluntary banishment. 
Such a revival among the judges of the spirit of Braxfield, 
whose example was openly held up for veneration in court, 
alarmed the Whigs, and Cockburn, in the Edinburgh Review 
of 1821 and 1822, drew attention to the inequality between 
Enghsh and Scots law.^ In 1821, Mr. Kennedy of Dunure, 
the Whig member for the Ayr Burghs, introduced a Jury 
Bill, whereby the jury was to be chosen by ballot, and the 
accused allowed the right of peremptory challenge. It was 
opposed by the Lord Advocate, who sent a circular letter 
to all corporate bodies in Scotland urging them to petition 

^ Memorials, 325. 

2 Cockburn, Exam, of Trials for Sedn. ii. 221. "Gillies held that the 
power to transport must be held to exist, but that it ought not to be 
exercised." All the other judges opposed him. 



against it.^ After much discussion and delay, two Bills 
embodying the principles of Kennedy's measure became law, 
one in 1822, the other in 1825 i the latter year another 

was passed which made the punishment for sedition in 
Scotland the same as in England. Finally, in 1830, a 
Judicature Act simplified the forms of process in the Court 
of Session, which had hitherto been the cause of much delay 
and of innumerable appeals to the House of Lords. 

During the halting progress of the Jury Bills through 
Parliament, a series of incidents, probably unique in the 
annals of British journalism, raised the wider question of 
the powers of the Lord Advocate, at which these law reforms 
were indirectly aimed. Most of the anti-Ministerialist 
newspapers established in 1791 and 1792 had been short- 
lived, but the first quarter of the nineteenth century saw a 
gradual growth of Opposition journals. The Dundee Adver- 
tiser was begun in 1801, and the Ayr Advertiser in 1803. 
The former, supported by Cockburn and other leading Whigs, 
drew largely on Cobbett for its material. 2 In 1816, the 
Glasgow Radicals, not content with importing Woolers 
Gazette, the Black Dwarf, and the Political Register, set up 
the Spirit of the Union, while in January of the following 
year, the first number of the Scotsman appeared in Edinburgh 
to advocate radical reform. As in 1792, the administrators 
of Scotland took steps to counteract their influence. Writing 
to Sidmouth on April 2, 1820, the Sheriff Substitute of 
Lanarkshire enclosed the prospectus of the Clydesdale 
Journal, " which he had agreed to support, ^ and in 
November, the Lord Advocate circulated a letter among 
his friends recommending it to their notice. Next year, 

^ Printed in Letters ofi the Affairs of Scotland^ by Lord Cockburn and 
■others, pp. 30-31. 

2 A. H. Millar, The Dundee Advertiser^ 1801-igoi. Dundee, 1901. 

3 Scot. Corr. vol. xxxii. 



the Beacon was founded in Edinburgh under the same 
auspices. Both of these newspapers were distinguished, 
even at this period, by the virulence with which they 
attacked their opponents. Mr. Stuart of Dunearn, a promi- 
nent Whig, being grossly insulted in the Beacon, caned the 
printer in the street. Mr. James Gibson, another Whig, 
was then repeatedly attacked. At last, suspecting some- 
thing more than Government patronage, he wrote to Lord 
Advocate Rae and asked if he were a partner. Rae replied 
that he was not ; but he enclosed a copy of a document 
binding himself and other subscribers as security for the 
Beacon to the amount of £ioo. The names of the others 
soon transpired and were found to consist of Government 
officials. These disclosures ended the career of the Beacon, 
whose place was taken by the Clydesdale Journal, or, as it 
was now called, the Glasgow Sentinel. Stuart of Dunearn, 
being again scurrilously libelled in its columns, brought an 
action of damages against Borthwick and Alexander the 
publishers. Borthwick thereupon offered to hand over the 
originals of the articles if the case was dropped. Stuart 
agreed, and on examining the manuscripts he discovered 
that the bitterest libels had been written in a disguised hand 
by one of his kinsmen, Sir Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, 
" Bozzy's " eldest son. Stuart challenged Boswell, the duel 
took place, and Boswell fell mortally wounded. Stuart was 
brought to trial for murder, and Borthwick, to prevent 
further revelations, was kept in custody by the Lord 
Advocate on a charge of having stolen the manuscripts 
from his partner. Stuart was acquitted, and Borthwick was 
at once released.^ 

In the House of Commons, in June, 1822, Mr. Abercromby 
moved for a committee of inquiry into the conduct of the 
Lord Advocate and other Scottish law officers of the Crown 

^ Cockburn, Meinorials^ 327-335, 338-347 ; Omond, op. cit. ii. 271-280. 


in connection with these proceedings, but his motion was 
lost by a majority of twenty-five. Next year he returned to 
the attack, and on this occasion he scored a moral victory, 
as he was only defeated by six. Meanwhile, the former 
debate had induced the Government to take action, and in 
October, 1822, the Home Secretary consulted the Scottish 
judges as to the advisability of changing the method of 
selecting juries, and of curtailing the legal powers of the 
Lord Advocate. The judges seem to have been adverse to 
any change, but the Jury Acts of 1822 and 1825 removed 
some of the grievances complained of. They did not, 
however, satisfy the demands of the Whigs as stated by 
Cockburn in the Edinburgh Review. He pointed out that 
the Lord Advocate, besides being public prosecutor, was 
the dispenser of patronage and practically Secretary for 
Scotland, and he contended that nothing but the separation 
of the political from the legal duties of his office would 
restore confidence in the administration of Scotland. 

Cockburn lived to modify his views when his own party 
came into power, and in point of fact it was against the 
principles of Tory government rather than the powers of 
the Lord Advocate that his criticism had been directed. 
For it was the second Lord Melville who, since the death 
of his father, had been the real " Manager of Scotland." 
It is true that he was never Home Secretary, and that during 
his time no member of the Dundas family filled the post of 
Lord Advocate. Moreover, Robert Dundas, the former holder 
of that office, since his appointment as Lord Chief Baron of 
the Court of Exchequer had been unable, partly through 
ill-health and partly through lack of opportunity, to co- 
operate with his cousin in maintaining the Dundas interest. ^ 

^ Referring to the early influence of the Edinburgh Reviewers, and of 
the necessity of rewarding and protecting those " fine young men of a 
subsequent growth who had not been inveigled," Melville wrote to 



Nevertheless, the Scottish Correspondence in the Record 
Office shows that on all matters of importance relating to 
Scotland, and especially on all questions of patronage. Lord 
Melville was invariably consulted. In 1827 his management 
of Scottish affairs ceased. In that year the Ministry of Lord 
Liverpool was succeeded by that of Canning, and Melville, 
following the example of Peel and WelHngton, resigned. 
Canning had therefore to turn to the Whigs for support. 
Lord Lansdowne was appointed Home Secretary, and, as a 
concession to the Scottish Whigs, it was agreed that he should 
be guided in the administration of Scotland by the advice 
of three of their party, Kennedy, Abercromby, and Lord 
Minto. The death of Canning in August, 1827, brought 
this arrangement to an end. The next Ministry, that of 
Goderich, only lasted four months ; and in January, 1828, 
Wellington became Prime Minister, with Peel as Home 
Secretary. To the dismay of the Scottish Tories, Melville 
accepted the office of President of the Board of Control 
without a seat in the Cabinet. Although he succeeded to 
his former post of first Lord of the Admiralty nine months 
later, he never recovered the influence he had once possessed. 
Such at least was the inference which the Tories drew from 
an appointment made in 1830. Wellington and Peel, 
anxious to conciliate the Whigs, gave to Mr. Abercromby, 
the prominent reformer, the place of Chief Baron of the 

Sidmouth on June 18, 1818 : "When the present Chief Baron held the 
situation of Lord Advocate, his personal quaUties, and the station of 
himself and his family in this part of the kingdom, kept together all those 
young men ; his house was open to them, and they collected themselves 
from all parts of Scotland. But ever since he has been on the bench, 
and the state of his health compelled him to withdraw very much from 
the society in which he formerly lived, his place has not been supplied, 
and the Reviewing gang have been in full activity, administering fair and 
inviting poison. They must if possible be counteracted, however, and I 
have no doubt that with proper attention they may be successfully resisted." 
Scot. Corr. vol. xxix. 



Exchequer, which, under ordinary circumstances, would 
have fallen to Lord Advocate Rae. 

These Ministerial changes were but the outward signs 
of an approaching crisis. In June, 1830, George IV. died, 
and writs were issued for a new Parliament on the accession 
of William IV. During the elections came the news of the 
bloodless French Revolution, which gave a further impetus 
to the movement for reform. The opening Parliament of 
the reign was of a different complexion from its predecessors. 
Many of the Tories had been alienated from Wellington 
by the Catholic Emancipation Act, and the Whigs could 
no longer support one who had openly stated his determined 
opposition to reform. These conditions were fatal to the 
Welhngton Ministry, which fell on November 16, 1830. In 
the Whig Administration formed by Grey, Jeffrey was Lord 
Advocate, and Cockburn, whose Memorials have been so 
frequently quoted. Solicitor General. 

The advent of the Whigs to power had an immediate 
effect in Scotland. "Altogether Toryism seems dead in 
this place," wrote the new Solicitor General to Kennedy 
in December, " and our sole danger is from the Antipodes. 
. . . There is a good deal of Radicalism in the country, 
founded on long and absurdly defended abuses, excited by 
recent triumphs, and exaggerated by distress. But though 
the alarm that many people feel may be useful, I cannot 
say that I as yet discern anything that reasonable concession 
and a firm government may not overcome." ^ Cockburn's 
analysis of the situation proved to be correct. In the 
ensuing struggle, the Radicals joined forces with the Whigs. 
A common detestation of " absurdly defended abuses " was 
not the only bond of sympathy between the two parties. 
It was the Whig leaders of the Scottish Bar who had be- 
friended the extremists in the courts of law. It was Jeffrey 
^ Letters on the Affairs of Scotlajtd, 271. 



and his Whig colleagues who had been their counsel in the 
sedition trials of 1817, and again in 1820. Jeffrey had long 
been of the opinion that the Whigs were too disposed to 
govern " without making the people a direct political 
element.'* " Let the true friends of liberty and the constitu- 
tion/' he wrote to Horner in 1809, " join with the people, 
assist them to ask with dignity and with order all that ought 
to be granted, and endeavour to withhold them from asking 
more." ^ The year 1830 witnessed the fulfilment of his 
hopes ; and it is significant that when Peter Mackenzie, a 
noted Radical of his day, published the Life and Trial of 
Thomas Muir in 1831, the work was dedicated to Jeffrey, 
** one of the most esteemed and popular men in Scotland." 

Mackenzie's preface was dated April 11, and the author 
anticipated that by the month of August the Reform Bill, 
then under discussion, would have received the royal assent. 
Such had been the general expectation in Scotland, the 
passing of the second reading having been made the occasion 
of public rejoicing. 2 But the Government was defeated on 
the third reading, and another appeal was made to the old 
constituencies. The country was thoroughly roused, and 
in Scotland, as in England, there was an almost universal 
demand for " The Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the 
Bill."^ On the assembling of the new Parliament, the 
Reform Bill was immediately introduced and passed through 
the Commons. " What will the Lords do ? " now became 
the burning question of the day. Alison, the historian, in 
an elaborate series of articles in Blackwood' s Magazine, 
entitled " The Late French Revolution and Parhamentary 

^ IJfe^ i. 195-7 ; V. also ii. 126-7, 199-200. 

2 Among the illuminations displayed in Glasgow was a transparency of 
Thomas Muir. Scotsman^ Mar. 30, 1831. 

3 The phrase originated with Rintoul of the Spectator^ a former editor 
of the Dundee Advertiser. A. H. Millar, op. cit. 


Reform," tendered the advice of the Scottish Tories. It had 
been affirmed that the demand for an extended franchise 
must be satisfied or a revolution would inevitably ensue. 
A similar argument had been put forward in the days of 
Pitt. " But the clamour was not met by concession. Mr. 
Pitt resisted the popular cry." ^ Yet when the Peers 
justified the hopes of the Tories by rejecting the measure, 
there was every sign that the general fears of a revolution 
would be realised. For God's sake keep the people quiet 
in Scotland," the Lord Advocate wrote to Cockburn. 

Nothing in the world would do such fatal mischief as riot 
and violence, ending, as it now must do, in lavish bloodshed 
— from which my soul recoils." ^ Fierce as was the indigna- 
tion in Scotland, however, it was vented in a constitutional 
manner, and no disturbance took place. 

The apprehensions of disorder were finally dispelled by 
the passing of the English Reform Act on June 7, 1832. 
Inasmuch as the system of representation in Scotland was 
more irrational than that of England, the Scottish Reform 
Bill, which received the royal assent on the 17th of the 
following month, was a more revolutionary measure. Accord- 
ing to its provisions, householders rated at £10 replaced the 
electorate of self-elected Town Councils. In the counties, 
the qualifications of Parchment Barons were abolished, 
and the franchise conferred on the proprietors of real property 
valued at £10 a year, and on tenants, with a nineteen years* 
lease, paying a rent of £50. Eight members were added 
to the representation of Scotland, two members being allotted 
to Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively, and one each to 
Paisley, Aberdeen, Perth, Dundee, and Greenock. 

For several weeks after the passing of the Act, there were 
celebrations of the victory all over the country. One of 
the most imposing — the Reform Jubilee — was organised by 
1 Vol. xxix. 761. 2 j^ij-^ qJ Jeffrey ^ i. 324. 



the Edinburgh Trades' Union Council. On the morning of 
August 10, a vast crov/d assembled on the historic Brunts- 
field Links, and voted addresses to the King, the Commons, 
and the Ministry. This was followed by a procession of 
the Trades. Of the numerous banners and insignia dis- 
played on that occasion, two were of special significance. 
One, with the motto, " For a nation to be free it is sufficient 
that it wills it/' recalled Lafayette's dictum, which had 
long been familiar to readers of the Rights of Man. The 
other, mounted in black, was carried by the chair and 
cabinet-makers, and was inscribed : To the memory of 
Muir, Gerrald, and others, who suffered for reform." ^ The 
Whig Reform Bill would not have satisfied these advocates 
of manhood suffrage and annual Parliaments. Yet it was 
by a sure instinct that the artisans commemorated those who, 
in championing the principles of the French Revolution, had 
been the first to rouse the industrial classes from their 
political apathy. The abiding memory of their unjust 
punishment had been an impelling motive of all Scottish 
reformers, and even their political doctrines, for many years 
to come, were to be embodied in the programme of Radicals 
and Chartists. 

^ Scots?nan, Kwg. ii. "One most just placard." Cockhmn, JournalSy 
i. 53-4. But Cockburn was not in favour of the monument erected 
to their memory on the Calton Hill, Edinburgh, in 1844. He thought 
that if they had been properly tried, the idea of raising a monument 
would never have occurred to any one. Dislike of Radical enthusiasm 
had doubtless some influence on Cockburn's opinion. 


The Minutes of the Proceedings of the First General 
Convention of the Delegates from the Societies of 
THE Friends of the People throughout Scotland, at 
their several sittings in Edinburgh on the iith, 12th, and 
13th December, 1792, as contained in the Spy's Reports, 
Public Record Office, London — Home Office {Scotland) Corre- 
spondence, vol. vi. — and in the Official Minutes published 
at Edinburgh, 1793, reprinted in Parliamentary History, vol. 
xxxi. 871-9. 

Sederunt of the Delegates of the Associations of the Friends of 
the People met in Convention at Edinburgh, Tuesday, iith 
December, 1792. 

Mr. Hugh Bell in the chair, \ 
Thomas Muir, Esq., Vice-President, [ pro tem. 
Wm. Skirving, Esq., Secretary, J 

Mr. Muir, after a short introductory speech, moved that the 
delegates verify their powers. Mr. Skirving then rendered the 
commissions. These were by letter, and some of them began 
" Citizen President." 

Calton of Glasgow : Mr. David Russell. 

Anderston : Allan M'Lean. 

Glasgow : Colonel Dalrymple, Wm. Dalrymple, Esq., A. 

Riddell, George Crawford. 
Canongate, No. 2 : John Stronach, Alex. Aitchison. 
Canongate No. 1 : Thomas Muir, Esq., Geo. Malcolm, Wm. 

Campbell, Alex. Bell, John Buchanan, J. Fortune, J, 

Thomson Callender, John Thomson, Wm. Wallace, J. 


Dundee : Thomas Muir, Esq. 
Anstruther Easter : James Darcy. 



Kilharchan, Lochwinnoch, and two other societies : Geo. Lee. 
Pathhead of Kirkcaldy : Robert Cork, Matthew Shiells. 
Stirling : Alex. Forrester, Wm. Clark, Wm. Gibson, Robert 

Marr, Wm. Patterson, Wm. Taylor. 
Forfar : Rev. Thos. Fysche Palmer. 
Paisley United Societies : James Alcie (?), David Graham. 
Nine Societies in Perth : Wm. Bisset, Wm. Miller, Alex. Paul, 

Johnston, M'Nab, Pat. Grant, Rev. Mr. Wilson, Geo. 

Miller, Esq., WyUie. 
Cowgate, Edinburgh : John M'Intyre, Simon Dnimmond, John 

Gourlie, John Millar, Esq., Rev. Mr. M'Lean, and some 


Portsburgh, Edinburgh : Lord Daer, Wm. Skirving, Esq., 
Robert Fowler, Allan, Hardie, and some others. 

Dunbar : Thos. Mitchell, Sawers, Cowan. 

Belhaven : Alex. Oliver, Kilgour. 

Shotts : Rev. Ebenezer Hislop. 

Hamilton : Joseph Miller, Esq., Bailie Vanie (?). 

Lodge Room, Black Friars' Wynd, Edinburgh : John Reid, 
Alex. Crawford, and some others. 

Gorbals, Glasgow : John Wilson, James Smith. 

St. Cyrus : Wm. Christie, Wm. Walter. 

Finnic : Wm. Wallace. 

Strathaven : Wm. Aitken. 

Dunfermline : James Boyd, Alex. Stewart. 

Leslie : Wm. Skirving. 

Candleriggs, Glasgow : Robert Smith. 

Montrose : Wm. Robb, Jr. 

Paisley : James Ellis (?), Dan. Blane. 

Lawnmarket, Edinburgh : Wm. Romanes, John Grindlay, and 
three others. 

Taylors' Hall, Potterrow : John Clark, Wm. Alexander, T. 

Ritchie, and other six. 
Glasgow : John Gray. 

Seven Societies, Kilmarnock : Wm. WylHe, Wm. Muir. 
Lodge Room, New Town : Gordon Murray, Kain, Walter Veitch, 

Glasgow, High Street : John Bruce. 
Glasgow, Balmanns Street : George Stayley. 
Dundee : Wm. Bisset, Wm. Webster. 



Penicuik : Smith, Tait. 

Dovehill and Saltmarket, Glasgow : Geo. Hill. 

Gallowgate, Glasgow : A. M'Vicar. 

Dalkeith : Carfrae, Caldwalls, Moffat, Ritchie, Gray. 

Musselburgh : Wm. Begg, A. Carmichael. 

Grinstons Tavern, Glasgow : Wm. Hart, Wm. Riddell, Geo. 

Kirkintilloch : James Baird. 

New Town and Gallon of Edinburgh : W. Christie, White, Watt. 
Abbeyhill : Alex. Nisbet. 

Original Association, Edinburgh : Izett (?), Hugh Handyside, 
James Farquhar, Esq., Walter Russell, Sam. Paterson, 
Robert Forsyth, Esq., Lothian, Alex. Ritchie, James 
Inglis, Livingston, Berry, Mitchell Young, Galloway, Dr. 
Yuille, Taylor, Lancashire, Hutchison, Cleghorn, Dal- 
rymple, Allan, [John Allen ?], Dunn, Smith, Campbell. 

Pathhead No. i. ."l Letter congratulating the Convention, but 
' Pathhead No. 2. .'J no delegates. 

Campsie : Henry. 

Water of Leith : A delegate, but not having his commission, 
was desired to bring it to-morrow. 

New Society, Mather's Tavern, Edinburgh: Bartlet, M'Asline (?). 

Linlithgow, and Linlithgow No. 2 : Joseph Reed, Stephen 
Mitchell, Joseph Calder, Malcolm Ewan, Geo. Ross. 

Mr. Muir moved that Mr. Henry, delegate from Saltcoats, 
should be admitted as a member of the Convention, although 
owing to the secretary's negligence the commission had not been 
made out. — Agreed. 

A member of the Water of Leith Society claimed the same 
privilege, but not being known to the Convention, and being so 
near his constituents, was ordered to bring his commission 

A letter from Saltcoats was read congratulating the Convention, 
and mentioning that, though newly erected, the society consisted 
of 60 persons, but, being yet in its infancy, had appointed no 

Mr. Muir, after a short speech on the business they were met 
upon, proposed that the Convention should proceed to elect a 
President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary. 

Lord Daer then rose, addressing the Convention by the familiar 




epithet of " Fellow Citizens," and insisted that there was no 
occasion for a formal election of office-bearers. That although 
there ought to be indeed some person in the chair, whom the 
speakers might address, there was no occasion for a president, 
vice-president, etc. That they were all met on the great principles 
of liberty and political equality, and therefore they ought to be 
jealous of all men set up in a permanent situation. He therefore 
moved that there should be no regular office-bearers or leaders. 
That it was proper, while Ministry had their eye upon those whom 
they considered as leaders, to divide the responsibility among 
many, and that at all events every appearance of establishing an 
aristocracy amongst us ought to be guarded against. 

Colonel Dalrymple rose and seconded his Lordship's motion, 
and enforced the propriety of it. (Repeated applauses.) 

Mr. Muir adopted the same idea and repeated what he had 
often observed formerly, viz. that no confidence ought to be 
placed in any man, but the Convention should keep constantly 
in their view the principles of liberty, political equality, and 
eternal justice. He concluded by moving that a daily election 
of office-bearers should take place. 

Mr. Aitchison followed the last speaker. He agreed with the 
general ideas thrown out by the noble lord and the other speakers 
who had gone before him, but thought it necessary that the 
offices of treasurer and secretary should be permanent, to prevent 
the affairs of the Association from going into confusion. Lord 
Daer in a reply agreed that these offices should be permanent. 

James Campbell, Esq., proposed that the election of a preses 
should be daily, and that Mr. Bell should now be called to the 
chair, which was agreed to by plaudits. 

Mr. Muir and Lord Daer proposed that Colonel Dalrymple 
should be called to the chair, but the Colonel declined the honour, 
insisting that as a military man the Ministry might accuse him of 
an attempt to raise a rebellion in the country. 

Mr. Muir replied and insisted on the Colonel's acceptance. 
The Colonel then accepted, saying he would not flinch from the 
service of his country. (Reiterated applauses.) 

Mr. Muir moved that Mr. Skirving be elected secretary. 

James Campbell, Esq., moved that Mr. Muir be elected vice- 


Mr. Muir insisted that according to what had now been resolved 
on there was no occasion for that office. 

Mr. Fowler moved that, for preserving the order of business, no 
member should speak more than once on his own motion, and 
that all motions be put in writing. 

Mr. Muir moved that a committee be appointed to draw up a 
solemn declaration of the principles of the Convention. 

Mr. Morthland proposed some resolutions that were drawn up 
last night in Mather's by several members of the original associa- 
tion. Before reading them, he observed that placemen and 
pensioners load us with obloquy, accusing us of an intention to 
subvert the Constitution — that we are disloyal subjects — enemies 
to Kings, Lords, and Commons — that we wish to plunge every- 
thing into anarchy — that therefore it was necessary to refute 
their calumnies by full, fair, and free declaration of our principles. 
He then read the resolutions, and proposed that they should 
lie on the table for consideration on a future day. 

Mr. Muir said that unless they were considered immediately, 
they might as well lie on Arthur's Seat. 

Colonel Dalrymple agreed that they should be considered 

Mr. Fowler insisted that all the motions should lie one day 
on the table. 

A member from the country proposed that instead of petition- 
ing Parliament, the Convention should present an address to 
the King. 

Mr. Drummond opposed this measure. 

Colonel Dalrymple, the Preses, called to the order of business. 

Mr. Muir moved a committee on the declaration. 

Mr. Bell moved that the committee should retire and report. 

Colonel Dalrymple was against trusting a business of such 
importance to any committee. 

Mr. Morthland on this proposed a committee of the whole 

Lord Daer was against the immediate and precipitant con- 
sideration of a business of so much importance which might 
ruin the whole cause in twenty-four hours. 

Colonel Dalrymple was against any delay, as he said that 
the whole association expected something to be done 



Mr. Fowler said the declaration required caution. It was our 
sole business — we stake our reputation and character upon it. 
It therefore required time. 

M. Campbell opposed any delay. 

Mr. Muir insisted for an immediate determination in a com- 
mittee of the whole Convention. 

Mr. Buchanan proposed that the resolutions should be imme- 
diately printed and submitted to the consideration of the 

Mr. Muir agreed to this, and proposed that the Convention 
should decide upon them to-morrow, which was agreed to and 

Wednesday, 12th December, 1792. 

Lord Daer, after an introductory speech directed to the 
establishing regulations for their procedure in business, 
read several propositions respecting the order of business, 
motions, etc. 

Mr. Muir, in a speech of some length, opposed everything that 
had been proposed by Lord Daer. 

A delegate from Glasgow then rose and expressed his surprise 
that the Convention should lose time debating about matters of 
form, and was followed on the same grounds by one of the Paisley 

Lord Daer rose to explain, showed that forms were 
absolutely necessary, expressed his disapprobation of standing 
committees as tending to throw the powers of the Convention 
into the hands of a junto, insisted that every question should be 
discussed by the Convention, after being proposed in writing 
and lying on the table some time. That he had been in France, 
where the delegates at first were led into a labyrinth of business 
by particular motions made with the intention of interrupting 
or involving their proceedings, until they at last adopted the 
measure he was now proposing, of receiving a variety of motions, 
letting them lie on the table, then reading them all, and adopting 
the best. 

The debate was interrupted by the reading of a commission 
just presented by the Bankhead Association in favour of Thomas 
Muir, Esq., A. M'Ewan, Bell, Farquharson, M'Coll. 

A country delegate moved that the Convention should not be 


bound by any fixed rules, but be at liberty to act as they should 
see proper at all times. 

Mr. Muir moved for the order of the day. 

Mr. Fowler spoke in favour of Lord Daer's propositions. He 
was against trifling about forms, said some people attempted to 
raise themselves from insignificance by advancing plausible 
arguments in favour of infamous measures. 

Mr. Buchanan spoke in favour of Lord Daer's propositions, and 
insisted for a vote. Whereupon they were agreed to without a 

Lord Daer, called to the chair, declined on account of his 
having to attend a county meeting on the same business of 
Parliamentary reform, though he did not expect so much good 
from it. The Convention insisted by repeated plaudits. His 
Lordship accepted. 

(Lord Daer in the chair.) 

The minutes were read and corrected — the word " regularly " 
being inserted instead of " lawfully," as suggested by Lord 
Daer. It was agreed that no plaudits should be given in the 
course of the after proceedings. 

Thomas Muir, Esq., presented a printed address from the 
Society of United Irishmen in DubHn to the Delegates for 
Promoting a Reform in Scotland, dated 23rd November, 1792, 
signed by Wm. Drennan, Chairman, Archd. Hamilton Rowan, 
Secretary. 1 

Colonel Dalrymple and Hugh Bell protested against its being 
read, as, in their opinion, it contained treason, or at least mis- 
prision of treason. 

T. Muir, Esq., took upon himself the whole responsibility and 
the whole danger of the measure. 

The cry to hear it was universal. Mr. Muir, after reading it 
and paying the author or authors many compliments, moved 
that it should lie on the table this day, and that to-morrow he 
would move that an answer be sent to it by the Convention. 

Mr. Aitchison seconded the motion. 

Mr. Forsyth gave Mr. Muir credit for his good intentions, but 
insisted by the motion he now made, and promised to make, he 

^ Printed in Pari. Hist, xxxiv. 615-7. 



would render it no longer his own business but the Convention's. 
Mr. Forsyth added that in his opinion it was, first, very inexpedient 
for the Convention to answer it, that it bordered on an attack on 
the British Constitution, that the words " inviolabihty of the 
people " appeared to him in this \4ew ; to mend the Constitution 
was legal, to do more was to raise a standard against the Con- 
stitution. Secondly, with regard to the legality of the paper, it 
was not ascertained ; in his opinion it was illegal, but at all events 
it was inexpedient. Hitherto Mr. Muir was responsible, but if 
the Convention should make it their own by approving and 
answering it, they became responsible. Therefore he cautioned 
the members against it. 

Mr. Muir rose to explain — insisted that there was no danger : 
" The paper supports the Constitution — I am determined to act 

Mr. Fowler insisted it was treasonable. He quoted the words, 
" Not by a calm contented secret wish for a reform, but by openly, 
actively, and urgently willing it, with the unity and energy of an 
embodied nation." He insisted that these words might be 
construed into high treason. 

Lord Daer was against the paper being answered or even l3ing 
on the table. 

A country delegate (who said he was also a member of the Royal 
Burghs) said that if such a paper was read before his constituents, 
they would withdraw themselves from the Association. An 
interruption issued from a call to " hear him, hear him." 

The order of the day was called before he could proceed. 

Mr. ^luir, however, insisted on replying to Mr. Fowler. 

A vote w^as called for. Upon a show^ of hands, a majority 
appeared for hearing ^Ir. ^luir. 

He rose and said that if he had made no reply to ]\Ir. Fowier, 
the report would have gone out and been spread abroad by the 
enemies of reform that he had spoken high treason. He then 
read the pages objected to, and vindicated them, and added, 
" We will a reform, w^e do not, w-e cannot consider ourselves as 
mow^ed and melted down into another country. Have we not 
distinct courts, judges, juries, laws, etc. ? I myself have studied 
the law, and am confident that the paper is perfectly constitu- 
tional. How ridiculous, then, will it appear if we send no 
answer to this address ! Colonel Dalrymple, Lord Daer, and all 


the Honourable Gentlemen will a reform. But if the people of 
Ireland send us a congratulatory address in our spirit, it is 
immediately construed as treason. The people of Ireland will 
a reform, the Scotch will a reform. Is the Irish nation to be 
considered as the Scape Goat in this business ? Is it treason to 
petition Parliament ? " 

Mr. Fowler said that Scotland and England were but one people. 

Colonel Dalrymple, Mr. Forsyth, and Mr. Fowler opposed the 
paper Ipng on the table. 

A vote was then taken whether the paper should lie on the 
table, or whether the Convention should pass to the order of 
the day. It was carried by a division for the latter. 

Lord Daer said that he had got an anonymous letter addressed 
to him as a member of the National Convention. He took this 
occasion to caution the members against the use of this epithet, 
as the Convention could not merit that title unless all Scotland 
had sent up delegates. 

Lord Daer, being obliged to go to the county meeting, Colonel 
Dalrymple was called to the chair. 

(Colonel Dalrymple in the chair.) 

The report of the committee was called for. Mr. Morthland 
proceeded to read the following printed resolutions drawn up by 
the committee. 
[Resolved : 

That this Convention, taking under consideration the insidious, 
wicked, and inflammatory artifices employed by the enemies of 
all reform to misrepresent and calumniate the Friends of the 
People as the promoters of public discord, and advocates for an 
unjust and absurd violation of private property by an equal 
division, think it incumbent upon them to declare that they hold 
all such designs in utter detestation and abhorrence, and that they 
will maintain the established constitution of Great Britain on 
its genuinely acknowledged principles, consisting of Three 
Estates — King, Lords, and Commons. 
Resolved : 

That the members of this Convention will, to the utmost of 
their power, concur in aiding and strengthening the hands of the 
civil magistrate throughout this kingdom to repress riot and 


tumult, and all attempts whatsoever to disturb the tranquilUty, 
happiness, and good order of society. 
Resolved : 

That it appears to this Convention that very great abuses 
have arisen in the government of this country from a neglect of 
the genuine principles of the Constitution ; that these abuses 
have of late grown to an alarming height, and produced great 
Resolved : 

That the essential measures to be pursued in order to remove 
these abuses and effectually to do away with their mischievous 
consequences are : 

First, to restore the freedom of election, and an equal repre- 
sentation of the people in Parhament. 
Secondly, To secure to the people a frequent exercise of their 
right of electing their representatives. 
Resolved : 

That for the purpose of accomplishing these constitutional 
objects, the proper and legal method is that of applying by 
petition to Parliament. 
Resolved : 

That these resolutions be printed in the Scotch and EngHsh 
newspapers ; and also be printed in handbills for general distri- 
bution among the Associated Friends of the People in different 
parts of Scotland.] ^ 

Mr. Morthland having read the first resolution, a country 
delegate objected to the words, " King, Lords, and Commons," 
and insisted that if they were retained, the word " Unanimously " 
should be deleted. He proposed the following addition by way 
of amendment : " That every organisation against the Friends 
of the People is mahcious, and ill-founded." Seconded. 

Mr. Drummond, printer, objected to the correction and 

The former delegate rose. He said, " Our constituents will 
be disappointed by such resolutions. We came here to petition, 
for redress of grievances, not to declare acknowledged principles." 

A clergyman from the country wished that the resolution had 
not been moved, but as it was moved in its present form, he hoped 

*The parts enclosed in square brackets are taken from the official 


that the Convention would adopt it, as the rejection of the 
clause, " King, Lords, and Commons," would give wing to the 
malicious slanders of their enemies. 

Mr. John Wilson, teacher, was for retaining the clause, and 
approved of the resolutions as printed. He objected to the 
amendment, particularly to the word " malicious." He even 
thought that the words " wicked " and " enemies of all reform " 
might be omitted. 

Mr. Morthland vindicated the printed resolution as it stood, 
and said that the words were not too strong. They applied in 
their fullest extent to the whole junto of placemen and 

Mr. Bisset of Dundee objected to the word " sedition " as 

One of the delegates from Pathhead moved to leave out the 
words " King, Lords, and Commons." 

T. Muir, Esq., said, " Our great business is to reform not to 
alter, to hold up the Constitution to the people, to get it restored 
to its original purity." He vindicated the word " sedition," 
and proposed altering the arrangement of the sentence by placing 
the words " the estabhshed constitution of Great Britain " 
before " on its genuine acknowledged principles," which would 
prevent ambiguity. 

Mr. Allen moved that the word " acknowledge " be inserted 
instead of " maintain." 

Mr. Buchanan seconded this amendment. 

Mr. Muir mentioned an anonymous letter he had received, 
which contained some impertinence which he despised. 

Several speakers arising, Mr. Wm. Campbell moved that only 
one person be allowed to speak at once. 

Mr. Clark moved that as Friends of the People were calumniated 
with entertaining notions of Liberty and Equahty inimical to 
property that an addition should be made to the resolution 
explaining what was meant by the word " Equahty " — that 
it was only political equahty that was wanted. 

Mr. Muir approved of the motion, but said it ought to form a 
separate resolution. 

Mr. Morthland put the question, " Shall this resolution pass ? " 
Upon a show of hands it carried by a great majority. 

Mr. Drummond then begged that the dissentient members 



would allow it to be marked as printed " Unanimously.*' " By 
no means," replied many voices. 

Mr. Morthland read the second resolution. 

Captain Johnston moved to insert " violation " for " neglect." 

Mr. Muir moved that " real " be inserted instead of " acknow- 

Mr. Buchanan wished that the Convention would come forward 
and mention specific grievances in the present stage of the 

Mr. Fowler approved of Captain Johnston's amendment, but 
thought that " neglect " should be retained. He proposed that 
the clause should be " neglect and violation." The question 
being put, it was passed unanimously. 

The third resolution was then read. 

A country delegate said that he was instructed by his consti- 
tuents to insist that annual Parliaments should be demanded, 
and that political equality should be urged. 

Mr. Morthland was against any specification of grievances 
in the present stage ; that it would be time enough when Parlia- 
ment allowed a Bill to be brought in for a reform to specify 
particulars ; that it was proper to wait for the opinion of their 
friends in England, whether annual or triennial Parliaments 
should be insisted for. 

Mr. Forsyth went over the same ground, and proposed the word 
" establish " instead of " restore." 

Mr. Muir went largely into this argument, and said that he 
could prove that both England and Scotland were once possessed 
of a free Constitution, and that therefore it was only a restoration 
of old rights and not an establishment of new ones that was 
wanted. He said if he were to object to any part of this resolu- 
tion, it would be the words " strike at the root of," as the enemies 
of reform might construe this clause into treason, for the root of 
these abuses was well known. The House of Commons had 
voted many years ago that the royal influence " had increased, 
was increasing, and ought to be diminished." (A laugh.) To 
put it out of the power of our enemies, therefore, to say we mean 
to strike at the royal power, he proposed to insert the words 
** in order to remove." 

Mr. Skirving proposed to omit the word " restore " and insert 
" obtain." 


A country delegate followed the same idea. 

Mr. Aitchison insisted that no word in the English language 
was so proper as " restore " ; that if any other word such as 
" obtain " or " establish " was adopted, we might justly be 
accused of innovation ; but in fact we had nothing more to ask 
than to be " restored " to our original rights ; that he was 
certain that by the English Constitution, so long ago as the days 
of King Alfred, every free man had a vote in choosing his repre- 
sentative, and that in those days ParHaments were annual ; 
that in the time of Edward I. and Edward III. ParHaments were 
expressly ordered to be called twice a year or oftener, if there was 
occasion. He was happy to hear from Mr. Muir that the freedom 
of Scotland was equally ancient, but at any rate as one people 
we are entitled to the same privileges. 

Mr. Muir perfectly agreed with the last speaker, and added 
that he could prove from ancient records that Parliaments were 
often called by Edward I. four times a year. He also repeated 
his assurances that Scotch freedom was as ancient as English. 

Messrs. Wilson and Forsyth, however, still insisted for the 
word " obtain " instead of " restore." 

A country delegate called for the question. 

Mr. Aitchison replied to Messrs. Wilson and Forsyth. 

Mr. Muir insisted that although in those days all were not 
equally free, owing to the abuses introduced by the Conquest, 
yet every man who was free had a right to sit in Parliament, 
either by himself or his representative ; that in Scotland a free 
man was even more free than in England. He insisted that if 
any word was adopted instead of " restore," we were wrong in 
complimenting our Constitution. " Why praise, why flatter the 
British Constitution (said he), if it is radically wrong, if it never 
was right ? " In those periods of freedom he mentioned, not 
only our ParHaments were held four times a year, but every 
freeman of the age of twenty-one had a vote in choosing his 
representative. ' 

A country delegate observed that the debate had deviated 
from the original question. Another called for the question, 
and insisted for a specification of grievances. 

Mr. Morthland insisted that they should stick by the general 
idea of a reform, without condescending upon particular 



A country delegate proposed the word " remove " instead of 
" strike at the root of." 

A plaudit following this, it appeared to be the sense of the 
house when 

Mr. Morthland proposed an amendment by adding after 
" remove," " the source of these abuses." 

Mr. Muir said that he was not wilHng to dispute about words, 
or to spend the time of the Convention in mere verbal criticism, 
although the metaphor of " removing a source " did not quite 
please him. But gentlemen would do well to attend to the 
inferences that might be drawn from such a mode of expression. 
" What is the source of these abuses ? — The royal influence. 
What ! Are you to remove the King ? Then, gentlemen, 
according to this, we shall find ourselves in the same predicament 
with those fooHsh fellows who got drunk with the soldiers in 
the Castle the other week, and drank, " George the Third and 
Last." (A universal laugh.) 

Mr. Fowler proposed " sweep away " instead of " remove/' 

Mr. Morthland read the resolution as amended, and put the 
question. Carried. 

The fourth resolution was then read. 

A country delegate proposed that the Convention should 
recommend to their constituents to send up petitions to Parlia- 

The Rev. Mr. Palmer complained that part of last night's 
resolution had been neglected, particularly the following words 
which he had moved, " and they do recommend to the associa- 
tions to petition accordingly." 

It was agreed that Mr. Palmer was right, and that the omission 
should be supplied. 

Mr. Morthland said that he had written out a resolution, but 
the paper had gone to press in its present form. 

A delegate from Dunfermline said that his constituents wished 
to petition Parhament, but laboured under the difficulty of not 
knowing how to do it. 

Mr. Fowler said that petitions ought to be sent not only from 
particular societies, but from the General Convention. 

Mr. Forsyth observed that Parliament did not know us, 
could not acknowledge us as delegates. We must therefore 
petition as individuals. 



A reverend delegate (Wilson, I think), wished that the Associa- 
tion should be instructed to petition early, and that our friends 
everywhere should be requested to attend Mr. Grey's motion, 
whatever it might be. (A loud laugh.) 

A country delegate moved to petition for a repeal of our four 
Acts of Parhaments, viz. Henry VIII., Charles II., Queen Anne, 
and George I. 

Mr. Palmer repeated his question whether the Convention 
wished to petition. He said that it would give Hfe to the cause. 

Mr. Forsyth said, " Parliament knows no such people. We can 
only petition as inhabitants of such a place. Every district 
should petition Parliament.'' 

Mr. Morthland went over the same ground. He said that an 
instance happened a few years ago when a petition was thrown 
over the Bar of the House of Commons though presented by the 
gentlemen of the County of Northumberland, because it was 
signed in their name by the sheriff -depute. The speaker on that 
occasion observed, " The petition is indeed subscribed by the 
sheriff-depute (for the clerk), but not one of the gentlemen of the 
county has subscribed it. We know nothing of it as theirs." 
He therefore insisted that all must subscribe as individuals. 

The Rev. Mr. Palmer proposed that the Convention should 
recommend to the associations to send up petitions from their 
different districts, and that they should also send up a petition 
as individuals as soon as possible. 

Mr. Muir cordially agreed with Mr. Palmer's idea. He added 
that though they could only petition as individuals, they would 
be known. It would be whispered, it would be spoken of, that 
they were a representative body from the different associations 
of Scotland. Mr. Grey would even tell the House, " Your forms 
will not admit of their taking the title of a Convention, but it is 
in fact the deed of the representatives of a great body of the 
people." He would move for a Committee of Inquiry upon the 
general propositions. " He will insist that the people are firm, 
collected, and strong ; and he will give the petition, though only 
signed by the Convention as individuals, all the weight of a 
representative body." 



Wednesday — Evening Sitting. 

(Colonel Dalrymple in the chair.) 

[The Secretary presented the Plan of Organisation for individual 
societies, district associations, and for general conventions, 
together with a written motion by Mr. Fowler for a Committee 
of Publications for the purpose of communicating instruction. 
The same were received, and Messrs. Wilson and Fowler were 
requested to bring them before the House at the proper oppor- 

Mr. Muir and others brought forward the following motions, 
which were unanimously adopted, namely : 
Resolved : 

That this Convention do address the Friends of the People at 

Resolved : 

That the thanks of the Convention be returned to Messrs. 
Grey, Erskine, the Earl of Lauderdale, Colonel Macleod, Lord 
Daer, and Colonel Dalrymple for their patriotic services in the 
cause of the people ; to J. H. Tooke, Esq., for his masterly support 
of freedom ; to the Hon. Major Maitland, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. 
Muir, Mr. Bell, and Captain Johnston for their important assist- 
ance to overturn corruption ; also to the Rt. Hon. Charles Fox 
for his determined speech in the last meeting of the Whig Club ; 
and lastly, to all those members of the House of Commons who 
have supported in Parliament the cause of the People. 

Agreed to Captain Johnston's two resolutions of yesterday, 
which are as follows : 
Resolved : 

That it be recommended to each society of the Friends of the 
People to expunge from the roll of its members, the name or 
names of any individual or individuals who may have acted 
illegally, tumultuously, or in any way to the disturbance of the 
public peace. 
Resolved : 

That any individual or individuals of the societies of the 
Friends of the People, whose conduct may have been legal and 
orderly, and who may be prosecuted by the arm of Power for 
adhering to the cause of the People, be defended by the united 
strength of the Friends of the People. 



The five following motions, which Mr. Skirving proposed, were 
ordered to lie on the table : 

I. That the Friends of the People in Britain should unite in 
the application to Parliament both as to the extent of the reform 
to be demanded, and as to the manner of executing their petition 
for the same. 

II. That therefore this Convention should send two or three 
deputies to London to concert a common plan with the Friends 
of the People there, advising always with the several committees 
of Edinburgh, Glasgow, etc. 

III. That these committees, while the deputies remain at 
London, should meet weekly, in order to instruct the deputies 
from time to time. 

IV. That when a common plan of operation is thus procured, 
a General Convention be called to approve or amend the same, 
and particular^ to direct the manner in which the petitions 
shall be executed and presented to Parliament. 

V. That the Convention recommend that the Friends of the 
Constitution and of the People be in the meantime dihgent in 
forming themselves everywhere into societies, in order to give 
the greater energy to their petitions.] 

Mr. MTntyre delivered a long speech, seemingly studied, full 
of learning and liberty, but delivered in an awkward manner. 
It occasioned no small entertainment. He compHmented the 
Convention on their spirit and firmness, and quoted many 
authors in favour of the value of freedom. He concluded with 
the words of the poet, whom he quoted from " Justum et tenacem 
propositi virum," down to " Impavidum ferient ruinae " — a 
passage which, he said, exceeded all power of translation, which 
nevertheless he would attempt. This he did accordingly. 
During the whole of this outre speech there was much noise and 
laughter, mingled with plaudits. 

Mr. Malcolm interrupted it more than once as foreign to the 

Mr. Drummond called him to order, and insisted that Mr. 
MTntyre should be heard. 

The President said that the utmost respect was due to the 
venerable old man, and the Convention approved, universally 
calhng out " Hear him, hear him." 

Mr. Allen made a motion, which he read in so low a voice 



that we could not hear it. That in order to supersede the 
necessity of constantly resorting to the aid of a military force, 
it be recommended by the Convention to the Associated Friends 
of the People, in the different parts of the country, to hold them- 
selves in readiness to support the civil magistrate when required 
for the suppression of any popular tumults that may arise in 
their neighbourhood.] 

Mr. Muir insisted that it should lie on the table. Agreed. 

Mr. Morthland called to the order of the day, and read the 
resolutions as last corrected. The word " sedition " was still 
objected to as ambiguous. Ordered to be printed. 

Mr. Muir moved that a permanent Committee of Finances 
be appointed to be held at Edinburgh, and that one delegate 
from each county should be sent to it. 

Mr. Malcolm proposed that it should consist of twenty-five 

Mr. Drummond said that was too large a number, and proposed 

A country delegate proposed that one should be sent from each 

Mr. Muir proposed that there should be four Committees of 
Finance, to hold their meetings at Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, and 
Dundee, who should correspond with the one at Edinburgh, 
and receive contributions from the associations in their respective 

Mr. Skirving proposed a Committee of Finance in every 
county, to correspond with that of Edinburgh. Agreed. 

Mr. Muir explained the nature of the plan. 

Mr. Fowler moved for a Committee of Publications to select 
and publish such constitutional extracts from the most approved 
authors in favour of liberty, as would tend largely to promote 
the cause of the reform by enlightening the minds of the 

Colonel Dairy mple disapproved of the measure. " Let indi- 
viduals pubHsh what they think most proper for the general 
cause, but let not the Convention dictate to the people." 

Mr. Muir supported the measure, and showed the danger from 
a recent instance of individuals pubHshing their own unguarded 
thoughts on pohtics. 

The delegate from Johnstone approved of the measure, and 



said that his constituents wished for information. Another 
spoke against it. 

Mr. Fowler withdrew his motion. 

Mr. Muir moved that some proposition should be fixed to be 
transmitted by the different associations to the permanent 
Committee of Finances. 

Mr. Fowler insisted that a certain sum in proportion to the 
numbers should be limited. 

Mr. Bisset was for leaving it to the voluntary contributions 
of the different associations, and moved that a Committee of 
Correspondence should be appointed to that purpose. 

Mr. Skirving, the Presidents and Secretaries of the different 
societies were already appointed a General Committee of Finances 
in Edinburgh. 

[The motions finally agreed upon were as follows : 
Resolved : 

That each district association shall have a committee for 
regulation of their own respective finances ; that the several 
committees of finance shall correspond with the Edinburgh 
committee of finance as the committee of finance for the General 
Convention, and remit to this committee as such, their respective 
contributions for the public interest. 
Resolved : 

That this committee of general finance in Edinburgh shall 
lay before each Convention a state of receipt and expenditure. 
Resolved : 

That the Convention, on the first day of their sitting, appoint 
a Committee of Constraint for the purpose of inspecting the 
accounts of the Convention's committee of finance, and report 
the result of their examination to the Convention.] 

Mr. Crawford moved that the Convention should proceed to 
the consideration of the Irish Address. 

Mr. Aitchison seconded the motion. 

Mr. Allan moved that it should be printed, and copies of it 
dispersed among the members. 

A country delegate seconded the motion. 
Mr. Drummond approved of it. 

Colonel Dalrymple said that he had already entered his protest 
against it, and hoped that the Convention would have nothing 
to do with it. Individuals might print it if they pleased. 




A country delegate observed that the printers might take 
their risk of it. 

Mr. Aitchison recommended it to any printers who were present. 
It would certainly sell well. 

A country delegate observed that the Irish Address ought to 
be smothered in its cradle. 

The Rev. Mr. Palmer moved that the Convention draw up a 
petition to Parliament, and that a committee be appointed to 
draw it up. 

Mr. Muir insisted on an uniformity in a matter of such import- 
ance, and thought that the Convention should wait the proceed- 
ings of the London Association, and adopt the forms of their 

Mr. Palmer said that his constituents in the country were 
anxious that no time should be lost in petitioning Parliament. 

Mr. Skirving said that there was a great danger in being too 
rash in sending petitions in a premature state. The cause of 
patronage was lost by the variety of different petitions that were 
presented on that subject. 

Mr. Drummond said that a committee on that business was 

A country delegate wished that no time should be lost lest the 
zeal of the people should cool. 

Mr. Muir was for appointing a committee immediately. " We 
must have petitions to Parliament. The first must be drawn up 
in general terms for a reform ; the second may specify particulars. 
The great object we ought all to have in view is equal representa- 
tion ; that every man, who is twenty-one years of age, who is 
not insane, under influence, or a criminal, should have a voice 
in the election of his representatives." Here he used some 
strong expressions about " the Offspring of the Almighty,*' the 
beginning and conclusion of which was drowned amidst the voice 
of the plaudits it met with. He also adverted to the law of 
patronage alluded to above, and said that the Act of 1690, 
established at the Revolution, which was thought so friendly 
to the cause of the people, was a mere juggle, and had been a 
foundation of eternal quibbles. 

Mr. Drummond called the attention of the House to a matter 
of importance. A gentleman near him, who was not a delegate, 
nor indeed a friend to the reform, had got in by some means or 



other. He therefore wished that the gentleman would withdraw 
and save trouble to the Convention. 

Colonel Dalrymple proposed caHing the roll and turning out 
all who were not delegates. 

One gentleman went out ; but the one alluded to continuing, 
Mr. Drummond said that he would be more particular. He was 
a clerk in a pubhc office, and he wished to know how he had got 
a ticket or from whom. 

The gentleman at last came forward to the table and showed 
his ticket, but said that he had not got it from a delegate, but 
accidentally in a coffee house. 

Mr. Muir said that the investigation of this trifling intrusion 
was unworthy the Convention and below their dignity. As their 
sole object was the public good, they ought not to regard who 
came in, whether friends or foes, as there was room to hold them. 

Mr. Drummond called the attention of the House once more 
[to the Irish Address], and moved that it ought to be taken into 
immediate consideration. 

Colonel Dalrymple thought that it would tend to divide the 
Friends of the People. 

Mr. Muir was of a different opinion, and insisted that it should 
be answered. 

Colonel Dalrymple, Mr. Fowler, Lord Daer, Mr. Forsyth, Mr. 
Morthland, and Mr. Bell were against meddhng with it ; and 
Messrs. Muir, Drummond, Palmer, and Buchanan spoke in favour 
of it. 

Mr. Fowler said that it contained high treason against the 
Union betwixt England and Scotland. 

Mr. Forsyth moved that the Address be returned by Mr. Muir 
with a private letter of acknowledgment from himself. 

Mr. Muir was clear that the Convention should answer it. He 
spoke largely in favour of the expression " willing a reform," 
and said that the whole nation willed it. The Lord Chief Baron 
and the gentlemen of the county willed it, the Royal Burghs 
willed reform, " and cursed be the man who wills it not." 

Colonel Dalrymple repeated his protest against any answer 
being given by the Convention to such an illegal and treasonable 

Mr. Fowler complimented the Irish on their spirit, but said 



that they were a foreign country, and we could not legally 
correspond with them. 

Mr. Muir agreed to withdraw the Address, to remit it to Mr. 
Drennan, and to mention the passages objected to that they 
might be smoothed. 

The Rev. Mr. Palmer insisted that a general petition to Parlia- 
ment be drawn up this evening, and that a committee be appointed 
to do it. Agreed. 

Mr. Fowler being appointed one of the committee, he said that 
he was too much exhausted to do anything this evening. 

Colonel Dalrymple recommended to the Convention to send up 
a petition as soon as the form should be adopted. 

Mr. Fowler moved that a committee be appointed to inquire 
into the state of the country — its population, commerce, taxation, 
revenue, exports, and imports, etc. 

Mr. Aitchison remarked that the first of these inquiries was 
almost unnecessary, being already superseded by the exertions 
of the patriotic baronet. Sir John Sinclair, whose Statistical 
Account of Scotland is now pubhshing and nearly completed. 

Colonel Dalrymple replied that the committee and the 
correspondents in the country could obtain information on that 
head without the least trouble by consulting his works. 

A letter from the Association at Paisley was read, congratu- 
lating the Convention on the progress of Light and Liberty. 

Adjourned till Thursday at lo o'clock. 

Thursday, I'^th December, 1792. 
(Colonel Dalrymple in the chair.) 

The petition to Parhament was presented, read, and approved. 
The scroll of a circular letter to the associations was read and 
approved, ordered to be printed, and signed by the chairman. 

Mr. Allan moved that we should hold ourselves in readiness to 
assist the civil magistrate in suppressing all riots and tumults, 
and that the associations should be properly provided with arms 
for that purpose. 

A reverend delegate made a curious speech on this subject, 
and asked if it was necessary that he too should wield the sword 
and musket. 



Mr. Drummond was clear that every associator should be 
provided with what is commonly called a " Brown Janet," with 
powder, ball, and bayonet, to be provided in quelling every 
appearance of riot and sedition. 

Mr. Newton and several others spoke against the motion. 

Mr. Allan withdrew it. 

Mr. Drummond and a country delegate renewed the subject of 
the Irish Address. 

Mr. Morthland spoke upon the impropriety of taking notice of 
it. He approved of the spirit, but disliked the letter of it. 
There was one expression which seemed to be borrowed from 
Lafayette's memorable speech made in time of actual rebellion. 

Mr. Skirving spoke in favour of the Address. 

Messrs. Fowler and Bisset went over the ground they had 
formerly used against it. 

Mr. John Thomson, Mr. Wm. Campbell, and a country delegate 
were for the Convention answering it. 

Colonel Dalrymple repeated his former arguments against it. 
He understood it to be withdrawn, and wished Mr. Muir had 
been present. 

Mr. Wilson read the plan of organisation, paragraph by 

Mr. Wm. Campbell thought that Lord Daer's motion should 
be added to it. 

Mr. John Wilson proposed a committee on the business. 

[After reading over the whole of it, the Convention recognised 
the right of individual societies to regulate their own internal 
order, and resolved that these words should be inserted : " with 
power to any ten towns, in which there is a society of the Friends 
of the People, to call a General Convention."] ^ 

(Captain Johnston in the chair.) 

The minutes of the last sederunt were read by Mr. Skirving. 

Mr. Morthland read a motion by Mr. Thomas Ritchie, a dele- 
gate from the country, and a member of the Royal Burghs, 
proposing " That the Convention should order their Secretary to 
send an address to them along with a few copies of the resolutions, 

^ Footnote in the official minutes : " The plan of organisation to be 
revised and published by the Edinburgh Association." 



and to request them to co-operate with the Associations of the 
Friends of the People in promoting a ParUamentary Reform." 

Mr. Bisset (from Perth and Dundee), who is also a member of 
the Convention of Royal Burghs, ^ seconded the motion, and 
assured the meeting that the measure would be very agreeable to 
the members of the Convention of Royal Burghs. 

A country delegate objected to the motion as improper on 
various accounts, particularly as the Convention of Royal Burghs 
had refused to co-operate with the Friends of the People when 
applied to some time ago. 

Mr. Wm. Campbell was for the motion, although he wished that 
all the petty distinctions between burgesses and non-burgesses 
were abolished. 

Mr. Bisset replied to the accusation made against the Con- 
vention of Royal Burghs, and said that there were many among 
them that disapproved of co-operating with the Friends of the 
People in the beginning of the business, being afraid that it might 
impede the success of their plan of a Burgh Reform ; yet they all 
wished for a Parliamentary Reform, and he had reason to believe 
that all of them now wished to co-operate with the Friends of 
the People to obtain it. He added that the Dean of Faculty, 
who was at first against the measure, was now a friend to it. 

Mr. Drummond confirmed this, and assured the Convention 
that the Dean of Faculty, upon seeing the resolutions just 
published, had expressed himself in terms of high approbation 
of their moderation and constitutional spirit, and he had said 
that now he saw that they did not aim at overturning the 
Constitution, he would heartily wish them success in their plan 
of a Parliamentary Reform. 

A country delegate objected to the motion of a co-operation 
with a set of men who, though they had set out with expressing 
a wish for Parhamentary Reform, had since reUnquished it, and 
confined their demands solely to a reform in the internal govern- 
ment of their burghs, — an object with which the people at large 
had little or no concern. 

Mr. Aitchison saw no harm in the motion, if it went no further 
than empowering the Secretary to send a letter with copies of 
the resolutions to the Convention of Royal Burghs, declaring our 

^ I.e. the Convention of Burgh Reformers, which is here confused with 
the Convention of Royal Burghs. V. ante.^ ch. ii. p. 9, fn. 2. 



sentiments, and inviting them to co-operate individually ; but 
we surely could not invite them to join us as a body while their 
object was so very distinct. 

Mr. Skirving was clear that, as a Convention of the Friends of 
the People, we could not with propriety join any class of men or 
body of burgesses whatever. 

Mr. Drummond was of the same opinion, but thought that we 
should invite them to join us as individuals. 

Colonel Dalrymple declared his determined zeal to support 
a Parliamentary Reform. He was always a friend to it. All 
the rhetoric of the Dean of Faculty, all the oratory of Cicero 
would never persuade him to desert it. No oratory whatever 
would influence him to desert the great object of an actual 
representation of the people and a short duration of Parliament. 
He therefore wished to invite the members of the Royal Burghs 
and all classes of men to co-operate with us in obtaining these 
great objects. 

Mr. Bisset insisted on the propriety of Mr. Ritchie's motion, 
assured the Convention of the good-will of the burgesses at large 
to the cause of reform, and mentioned Mr. Sheridan and Mr. 
Fox as ready to support the objects of both Conventions in 
Parliament along with Mr. Grey. He said that the Royal Burghs 
deserved much praise from the Friends of the People. They 
were the first that hfted up the standard of reform in Scotland, 
and though they had been long trifled with by ParHament, and 
had never yet attained their objects, their money had been well 
laid out, and had excited a spirit of inquiry into pubUc grievances 
that would not be speedily extinguished. 

Mr. Skirving was sensible of the benefits that the Burgh 
Reform had already conferred on the cause of liberty, but was 
against Mr. Ritchie's motion of inviting them to co-operate as 
a body. 

Mr. Aitchison was convinced by what he had heard that the 
motion was improper. "If we invite them to co-operate with 
us at all, we can only invite them to join us as individuals." 
He therefore moved that the Secretary be desired to write to 
the Convention in that style only. 

Mr. John Thomson seconded the motion, and thought that any 
•other measure would be absurd. , 

A Glasgow delegate deprecated thi idea of inviting any class 



of men whatever to co-operate with us, and was particularly 
severe upon the rights of burgesses, chartered monopolies, and 
all those distinctions that tended to separate man from man. 

An Aberdeen delegate took the same ground, and was against 
the motion for the various reasons already assigned. 

Mr. Fowler argued strongly for the motion, and hoped the 
backwardness shown by some of the members of the Royal 
Burghs to co-operate with us when the measure was first stated 
would be forgiven. They were now sensible of their error. They 
were penitent, and, like the Prodigal Son returning to his father,, 
they ought to be joyfully received. He hoped that the Con- 
vention of the Friends of the People would not act so aristocratic 
a part as to reject any class of men who were willing to co-operate 
with us. 

Captain Johnston deprecated the idea of the Friends of the 
People acting an aristocratic part. He said that the Royal 
Burghs had done so at the beginning of this business in July last, 
in consequence of which the Friends of the People had associated 
for reform, and taken that business into their own hands. There- 
fore we had nothing to do with them as burgesses, and if we are 
to invite the Royal Burghs as a separate class to co-operate with 
us, we should also invite the gentlemen of the county, with the 
Lord Chief Baron at their head. Their professed object is the 
same — a Parliamentary Reform. After these, we must invite 
other classes for consistency's sake. But the fact is, we ought 
to invite none but the nation at large. Our principles are 
published. Our objects are known. Let people of all ranks 
who approve of them join us, but let us not invite any. It is 
below the dignity of a Convention of the Friends of the People 
to invite any particular class of men. 

Mr. Fowler rephed that he had no idea of the Friends of the 
People taking so much state upon them as to refuse to invite 
particular classes of men. His Majesty himself condescended to 
invite the lowest classes of the people. In his Royal Proclama-^ 
tion, read yesterday at the Cross, he invited the seamen and lands- 
men of whom none would rank among the higher classes. 

Mr. Muir, who had been absent at the Court on a private 
cause, came in during Mr. Fowler's speech. He said that he 
did not know what had been said upon the motion, but from the 
little he had heard, he was clearly against the motion. The 



Friends of the People could not with any consistency invite a 
particular class of men to co-operate with them. As to inviting 
the Royal Burghs, there was a pecuhar impropriety in the 
measure. He then gave them a particular and uninteresting 
detail of the conduct of the Dean of Faculty and other leading 
men in the Convention of Royal Burghs, when the measure of 
co-operating with the Friends of the People was first started. 
He showed how their refusal had given birth to the Edinburgh 
Association in Fortune's, the first proposal of which he himself 
had had the honour to make. He congratulated the Convention 
on the rapid increase in the number and respectability of the 
associators since the 26th of July last, and expressed his hopes 
that now that our principles were declared, and our objects 
published, they would daily increase tenfold. He concluded by 
expressing his hearty disapprobation of the motion, though he 
had every reason to hope that the members of the Royal Burghs 
would join the associations, as many of them had done indi- 
vidually. (Plaudits.) 

The question was now loudly called for, when 

Mr. Aitchison said he had been up some time before, but had 
given place to better speakers. He would not now detain them, 
having but one observation to make, which perhaps might place 
the subject in a clear point of view. The whole argument might 
be comprehended in a nutshell. " We call ourselves the Friends 
of the People. Are the burgesses a part of the people, or are 
they a distinct class of men ? If the former, we cannot address 
them separately from the people at large." He therefore agreed 
with Captain Johnston and Mr. Muir, that we ought to invite 
the whole nation, but no particular class of men. (An universal 

The question was now put, but the House appearing nearly 
divided, a vote was called for. To save trouble. Colonel 
Dalrymple counted the number for and against the motion, 
when there appeared for the motion, 40 ; against, 42 — majority, 2. 

[In place of this motion, the following, submitted by Mr. 
Skirving and seconded by Captain Johnston and others, was 
adopted : " That if any members of the Association for Burgh 
Reform apply to the Friends of the People to be admitted, 
they will be received cordially. But the Convention can admit 
no societies but societies of the Friends of the People."] 



Mr. Morthland then read two additional resolutions which he 
proposed to be added to those already published. Agreed. 

[Resolved, That since a speedy and complete redress of our 
present grievances will be most effectually obtained by the joint 
co-operation of every Briton who yet retains the spirit and the 
wish to be free, this Convention will, as far as their principles 
and objects will allow them, co-operate with the Friends of the 
People in London. 

Resolved, That this resolution, along with those voted at a 
former sitting of this Convention, be transmitted by their Chair- 
man to the Society of the Friends of the People in London.] 

Mr. Muir made a proposal that the whole minutes of the 
Convention should be printed for the information of the public. 
This was also agreed to, and the following gentlemen appointed 
a committee to assist the Secretary in drawing them up previous 
to their being put to press, viz. Mr. Hugh Bell (chairman). 
Colonel Dalrymple, Mr. Fowler, Mr. Aitchison, Lord Daer, 
Captain Johnston, Mr. Morthland, Mr. John Millar, Mr. Forsyth, 
Mr. Muir, Mr. Skirving, and Mr. Bisset. 

It was agreed to print at least 15,000 copies of the minutes of 
Convention. The number was left to the determination of the 

Mr. Muir proposed that copies should be dispersed all over the 
kingdom. Agreed. 

John Millar called the attention of the Convention to an 
advertisement, signed by Sir John Inglis, Mr. Wauchope of 
Niddry, and Mr. Bain Whyte, in the Edinburgh Herald of the 
day [of which the following is a copy : 

" We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, being unani- 
mously and decidedly of opinion. That for the security and 
happiness of all classes of our fellow-countrymen, for the mainten- 
ance of our rights and liberties, and for those of our posterity, it 
is, in the present moment, incumbent on us and all good subjects 
to give to the executive government an effectual support in 
counteracting the efforts of sedition, and in suppressing, in their 
beginnings, all tumults or riots on whatever pretence they may 
be excited ; do hereby publicly declare our determination to 
take all such steps for these purposes as are within the limits of 
our duty in the several stations in which the Constitution of our 
country has placed us, and to afford by our individual exertions 


that active assistance to the authority of the lawful magistrate, 
and to the maintenance of the Established Government which 
is at all times due from the subjects of this free and happy 
kingdom, but which we feel to be more peculiarly necessary at 
a time when insidious attempts have been made to deceive and 
mislead the unwary. With these sentiments, and to this intent, 
we are resolved and do declare that we will stand by the 
Constitution with our lives and fortunes. 

" We will jointly and individually use our utmost endeavours 
to counteract all seditious attempts, and in particular, all associa- 
tions for the publication or dispersion of seditious and inflamma- 
tory writings, or tending to excite disorders and tumults within 
this part of the kingdom. 

" That we will on every occasion exert ourselves, on the first 
appearance of tumult or disorder, to maintain the public peace, 
and to act in support of the civil authority for suppressing all 
riots and tumults that may be excited. 

"And whereas we are of opinion that it would greatly conduce 
to the maintenance of peace and good order, that means should 
be used to give such just and proper information to our fellow- 
subjects as may tend to remove the false and delusive opinions 
that have been industriously circulated amongst them, and to 
impress on their minds a proper sense of the invaluable blessings 
secured to this nation by our happy Constitution, we have agreed 
diligently to promote the circulation of such writings as may 
contribute to this important end."] 

Mr. Millar said that this was evidently one of these insidious 
and malicious attempts of the enemies of reform alluded to in 
our resolutions to thwart the measures of the Friends of the 
People, and to bring the cause of reform into discredit with the 
pubhc, as if the Friends of the People were the friends of riot 
and sedition. He therefore proposed that as the best method 
of counteracting this insidious attempt, the members of the Con- 
vention should go down in small parties and subscribe the 
declaration, which indeed contained nothing that any friend to 
reform could disapprove of. 

Mr. Drummond seconded the motion, and begged to be the 
first to subscribe. 

Captain Johnston (who was in the chair) said he hoped Mr. 
Drummond would yield the first place to him as Chairman of 



the Convention, and added that he heartily approved of the 
measure proposed by Mr. Millar as the best method of springing 
the mine laid by their enemies. 

A country delegate expressed some doubts of the propriety 
of the measure, as the addition of their names would increase 
the number of the apparent enemies of reform. 

Mr. Clark was of the same opinion, and added that by their 
subscribing the resolutions of their enemies it would appear as 
if they had deserted the cause of the people. If the Convention, 
however, thought that it would serve the cause of the people 
to subscribe, he had no further objection, provided every member 
should add to his subscription the designation, " A Friend of 
the People." 

Captain Johnston seconded this, and said that he himself 
would subscribe as Chairman of the General Convention of the 
Friends of the People. 

One gentleman only continued to object. He hoped that he 
would be excused in not signing a declaration which did not 
entirely meet his approbation. He was answered from the 
chair that there was no compulsion, every member of the Con- 
vention being at liberty to subscribe or not as he pleased. 

Captain Johnston then went out with Messrs. Millar, Morthland, 
and several other gentlemen to subscribe the declaration at the 
Goldsmiths' Hall. 

(Mr. Clark in the chair.) 

No business was done. Conversation turned on the probable 
reception Captain Johnston and his friends might meet with. 
On their return. Captain Johnston informed the Convention of 
their having all subscribed, each adding after his name his 
proper designation as " Chairman of the Convention," " Delegate 
from such a Society of the Friends of the People," etc. 

The second party now went out with Mr. Clark at their head, 
soon after which the Convention adjourned till 6 o'clock in the 

Evening Sitting. 

(Mr. Bisset in the chair.) 

[The Convention resolved. That a great number of their 
resolutions and minutes be printed, and sent to all the societies, 



and committed the same to the Committee of Finance at 

Mr. Muir moved, That the Secretary be enjoined to give a 
sufficient notice to the Edinburgh Committee of Finance that 
they were hkewise appointed the Committee of Finance for the 
General Convention. 

Upon the Secretary's motion, the following instructions, 
drawn up by Mr. Muir, were unanimously recommended to their 
observation : 

" To the Committee of Finances of the Edinburgh Convention. 

" The General Convention has instructed each particular 
society to form a Committee of Finance for managing their own 
private and public contributions. The Convention has requested 
you to take the management of the expenses which their sittings 
here may have incurred. 

" In this department of their business, they consider you as 
their committee. The particular societies will transmit to you 
their respective proportions of the general expense. The first 
General Convention has left each particular society to the free- 
dom of their own will in regard to the different assessments 
they may lay upon their members. 

" You will keep a regular account of the public expenditure 
and outlay, which you will lay before each General Convention 
for their examination. 

" As soon as you have collected the amount of the general 
expense, inform each particular society by a circular letter, in 
order that the societies may, without delay, transmit to you 
their respective proportions."] 

Mr. Palmer again moved the question when the petition to 
Parliament was to be presented for subscription. 

He was answered by Mr. Fowler and Mr. Morthland that it 
would be prudent to wait till the London Association sent us 
down a copy of theirs. 

Mr. Morthland, in corroboration of his argument, said that 
though he was well acquainted with the law of Scotland, there 
were certain forms in the EngHsh law which he pretended to 
no knowledge of, and some of which might be necessary in 
presenting petitions to Parhament. 

Mr. Palmer insisted that no time should be lost in preparing 
the petition. It would strengthen the cause of reform all over 



the country. It would show the people that we were in earnest. 
" There is a great deal of danger in letting the spirit of the people 
cool by procrastination." 

A country delegate expressed the same sentiments, and said 
that his constituents were impatient for this measure. 

Another country delegate was of the same opinion, and urged 
the danger of delay. Nothing would strengthen the cause more, 
except the rejection of their petition, which he hoped would he the 
issue of the business. (Plaudits.) 

A third country delegate said that it would be the most 
fortunate circumstance the Friends of the People could meet 
with if Parliament in their great wisdom would reject their 
petitions. (Plaudits.) It would increase the number of the 
associations an hundred fold. 

Another delegate moved that the Friends of the People should 
form a resolution to support each other in the course of their 
business in private life, as their zeal for reform might deprive 
them of the employment of the aristocracy. 

Mr. Morthland answered that a general resolution of this 
kind would answer no purpose, as there were certain connections 
in every man's business which could not easily be dissolved. 

Mr. Drummond agreed with the proposal, and as an evidence 
of the propriety and necessity of it, informed the Convention 
that one of the most amiable female characters in the whole 
aristocracy of Scotland, viz. the Duchess of Buccleuch, had the 
other week discharged her haberdasher, paid him his amount, 
^ and informed him that he would get no more of her employment 
because he had joined an association of the Friends of the People. 

Mr. Fowler said that the Friends of the People ought to despise 
imitating such mean conduct as her Grace had been guilty of. 

The proposal was dropped. 

Mr. Morthland (or Mr. Muir) moved that the thanks of the 
Convention be given to Convener Lindsay for his spirited defence 
of the Friends of the People at the meeting of the fourteen 
Incorporations in the New Church Aisle. 

Mr. Drummond moved that similar thanks should be returned 
to Mr. Mitchell Young for his spirited conduct on that occasion. 

Both motions were agreed to and applauded. 

Mr. Drummond gave a very humorous account of his going 
to the Goldsmiths' Hall accompanied by a great number of the 


associators intending to subscribe, but the members in his 
retinue or his own Democratic face had alarmed the town officials, 
and the young man who kept the book, so much, that he and his 
friends were not allowed to subscribe. They were indeed desired 
to wait till Mr. Bain Whyte should come in, but as it was dinner 
hour, they declined this. 

Mr. Aitchison said that he was one of those who accompanied 
Mr. Drummond on that occasion, and had been refused. He 
therefore begged to know whether those who had been refused 
should make a second attempt, or whether a resolution should 
not be made that no more members of the Association should 
subscribe that paper. 

Mr. Morthland and Mr. Fowler were of opinion that a second 
attempt should be made. 

Mr. Aitchison then moved that a particular account of what 
had passed on this occasion, with the reason and mode of sub- 
scribing, and the circumstances of the refusal, should be recorded 
in the minutes of the Convention. 

Mr. Thomson seconded the motion. Agreed. 

Mr. Aitchison then started another difficulty, whether if upon 
making a second attempt the clerk or the officer should tell 
them that they were welcome to subscribe provided that they 
did not add the words "A Friend to the People," they should 
subscribe under that restriction or not. 

Captain Johnston answered, " Certainly not." It was 
therefore unanimously agreed that no member of any 
association should subscribe these resolutions unless allowed 
to distinguish himself as a member of the association to which 
he belonged. 

A country delegate proposed that Captain Johnston should take 
proper notice of the business in his Gazette.'^ 

The Captain rephed that the Convention might trust that to 

Colonel Dalrymple read a very spirited address from the 
Associated Friends of the People in Glasgow, which met with 
much merited applause. 

Mr. Aitchison moved that it should be printed, and dispersed 
among the Friends of the People. 

Mr. Morthland said that, as Glasgow was his native town, he 
^ I.e. Edinburgh Gazetteer. 



hoped that the Convention would allow him the honour to be 
at the expense of reprinting looo copies of it. 

This proposal met with great applause, and Mr. Aitchison 
moved the thanks of the Convention to Mr. Morthland for his 
genteel offer. Seconded by Mr. Thomson, and applauded. 

Mr. Fowler moved thanks to the Society for Preserving the 
Freedom of the Press. Agreed to with plaudits. 

Mr. Muir congratulated the Convention on the propriety of 
their conduct and the happy result of their deliberations. He 
particularly complimented them upon the free spirit of inquiry 
and jealous attention which had pervaded all their debates. 
They had paid no respect to the authority of leaders. They 
had not assented to a single clause in their various resolutions 
in compliance to great names. They had entered into the 
minutiae of everything, and scrutinised every syllable before they 
gave it their consent, instead of tamely yielding their judgments 
to those of others. This was the true spirit of liberty which, 
now that it was fairly begun to be understood amongst his 
countrymen, he hoped would never cease till it became universal, 
and till every object they wished for was accomplished. 

Mr. Fowler moved that all present should take the French oath, 
** To live free or die." The whole Convention as one man rose, 
and, holding up their right hands, took the oath. (Reiterated 

Colonel Dalrymple then rose and said that though he could 
not but be highly pleased with that spirit of freedom which 
pervaded all present, yet he would beg leave to caution them 
against yielding too much to the enthusiasm of the moment. 
They stood on perilous ground, and must therefore take care to 
give their enemies no just ground against them. The oath, or 
rather vow, just now made was in itself harmless, but might be 
magnified by their enemies as sowing the seeds of sedition. He 
therefore hoped that no notice would be taken of it in their 
minutes or in the newspapers. 

Mr. Fowler acknowledged the justice of the Colonel's remarks, 
and said that he meant no more by the motion than simply to 
impress upon the minds of all present uniformity and steadiness 
in the cause of freedom and virtue. 

The business of the Convention being now at an end, Mr. 
Muir moved the thanks of the meeting to Mr. Bisset, and expressed 


his hopes that on all future occasions virtue and patriotism, 
such as he possessed, would be the only recommendation to 
that chair. 

Adjourned till April. 

Before adjourning, a country delegate asked if the Convention 
would meet again before April, and was answered, Not unless 
some extraordinary business rendered it necessary, but that any 
ten towns agreeing together might call a Convention." 



List of Societies represented at the Second General 
Convention of the Friends of the People, 30th April 
to 3rd May, 1793. 

As explained in the text, only part of the minutes of this 
Convention has been preserved. The following is a list of the 
Societies represented, according to the Spy's Report, P.R.O. 
London. Home Office [Scotland) Correspondence, vol. viii. 

Kilwinning : Mr. Robert Barr. 

Miltoun, Campsie : Mr. James M'Gibbon. 

Galston, Newmills, etc. : John Wallace. 

Dundee : James Peat (stocking-maker). 

Strathaven : John Smith. 

Dunfermline : James Masterton, James Boyd, Andrew Mercer. 
Potterrow, Edinburgh : John Clark, And. Newton, Geo. Cotton 

(tobacconist), Adam Pringle, David Young, James Dun, 

Geo. M'Latchie, Geo. Freer, And. Paterson, Eben. Brown, 

Thos. M'Lash, James Tod, Geo. Innes. 
Hawick : James Turnbull. 
Operative Society, Edinburgh : John Thynne. 
Glasgow Societies : Walter Hart, Henry Rose, John Sinclair. 
Paisley Societies : Wm. Moodie, Wm. Mitchell, Jas. Kelly, 

Archd. Hastie, John Tayler, John Tannyhill, Wm. Wood. 
Linlithgow : Stephen Gibson. 
Newton : James Sommerville, Esq. of Holmes. 
Whitburn : John Stark, Esq. of Gateside. 
Selkirk : Alex. Dobson. 

Dalkeith : Peter Lyden or Lyeten, Thos. Taylor, Wm. Howieson. 

Canongate, No. i and 2, Edinburgh : Robert Yuill (?), Alex. 
Aitchison, Archd. Wright, John Thomson, John Stronach, 
Alex. Fortune, Alex. Carse, Alex. Miller, Wm. Simpson, 
Robert Ruthven. 


New Town, Edinburgh : John Wilson, Walter Davidson, 
Robert Wright, David Bertie, John Reid, Alex. Ingram, 
Alex. Knox, John Bruce, Alex. Bremner. 

Penicuik : Jas. Smith, Jas. Anderson. 

Linktoun : Jas. Mather. 

Auchterderran : Robert Wemyss (letter of apology). 
Kilmaurs : James Lambroughton. 

Cowgate Society, Edinburgh : Alex. Reid, Archd. Binny, 
John MTntyre, John Gourlay, Geo. Galium, Mitchell 
Young (painter), Charles Salter, Isaac Salter. 

Musselburgh : Wm. Wilson, Duncan Charles. 

New Town and Calton, Edinburgh: James Muirhead, Jas. Smith, 
Wm. Philp, Robert Christie, Geo. Watt. 

Water of Leith : John Rymer (?), Wm. Farquharson. 

Fenwick : Jas. Fulton. 

Cowgate No. 3, Edinburgh : John Laing, David Taylor, Wm. 
Robertson, Jas. Calder, Jas. Weir, Wm. Stark, John 
Tweedie, John Hamilton, John Spalding, Alex. Adams, 
Chas. Stirling, Peter Moffat, Neil Campbell. 

Kilmarnock : Rev. Jas. Robertson. 

Portsburgh, Edinburgh : Robert Jardine, John Thomson, Geo. 
Anderson, Jas. Tweedie, Peter Wood, Jas. Thomson, David 
Sinclair, Wm. Skirving, Esq., Wm. Moffat (writer). 

Montrose : Rev. Mr. M'Farlane, Mr. James Glen. 

Midcalder : Adam Wilson. 

Anstruther : Mitchell Young. 

Twelve United Societies in Perth : Robert Sands, Thos. Smith, 
David Jack, Wm. Thomson, Moses Wylie, And. Dott, 
David Johnston. 

Pathhead : Geo. Drummond. 


Letter of Henry Dundas on the defence of Scotland, March 7, 
1797, from the Edinburgh University Laing MSS., Division 
11. , No. 500. 

Somerset Place, 
7th March [1797]. 

Dear Advocate, 

Being at home this morning with a little of a headache, 
I have taken up my pen to put together in one letter what occurs 
to me respecting the extent and nature of the defence of 
Scotland. Perhaps I think it equally applicable to the defence 
of England ; but as they have already a malitia upon their own 
construction, and certainly a most usefull and important body of 
troops, disciplined as well as troops can be who have never seen 
service, it is not my intention to extend my ideas at present 
beyond what relates more immediately to Scotland. 

I have before me the Report of the Distribution of the Force 
now in North Britain, and so far as I am competent to judge, 
it is very judiciously distributed ; but it is certainly too small a 
force, and I think there is this obvious defect in it, arising from 
the smallness of the force, that there is not placed any consider- 
able collection of force in those few places where it may be 
supposed an enemy may be disposed to come in any force. With 
a view of remedying this defect to a certain extent, I have given 
it as my opinion to the Duke of York that the skeletons of 
regiments which have been on foreign service, and are now 
at home, consisting of httle more than their commissioned and 
non-commissioned officers, should be distributed over England, 
Scotland, and Ireland, to be there recruited by every means 
possible ; and altho it was out of common rotine of military 
detail, I was further of opinion, and gave it to His Royal Highness, 


that in order to recruit those regiments more rapidly, I would 
recruit on the condition of not serving out of the country, or for 
a longer period than three or five years. I am aware that this is 
in a manner for a time converting those Regular Regiments 
into the state of Fencible Corps. It is perfectly true ; but as 
we have not more foreign conquests to aim at, and security at 
home during the ensuing campaign ought to be the chief object 
of attention, it did not occur to me that there was any solid 
objection against the measure. When peace arrived. His Royal 
Highness, with his usual care and attention, would find no 
difficulty to new model the regiments in any way more conducive 
to the general service. It is more than probable that, after serv- 
ing some time, the very men recruited on those limitations, 
moved for a guinea more at the peace, would agree to re-enlist on 
the common terms of general service. I likewise gave it as my 
opinion that in order more rapidly to fill up those skeletons a 
portion of each of the Fencible Infantry Corps should be induced 
to enlist into them. If you ask me in what respects these 
Regular Regiments so modelled would be better than the other 
Fencible Corps, my answer is, that altho many of the Privates 
would be but raw men, still they would be serving under a set 
of Officers, all or most of whom had been on actual service ; 
and I am sure, if we were to come to serious business at home, 
it is uncalculable what would be the advantage of even a small 
body of troops so circumstanced being mixt with troops of 
a different description. They would aid and support and give 
them confidence in a variety of different respects. I there- 
fore do recommend it to your serious consideration to urge 
every man everywhere in Scotland, where your advice can 
extend, to contribute their utmost exertions to compleat to their 
full establishment those regiments of skeletons sent to Scotland. 
The use they will be of I will have occasion hereafter to refer to. 

The next body of men now existing in Scotland to which I 
shall advert are the bodies of Volunteers formed and forming 
in different parts of Scotland. The objects of these are two- 
fold, to preserve the internal Tranquillity, and to repell foreign 
Invasion. As to the first object, there can be but one opinion as 
to their utility, and it is unnecessary for me to dilate upon it. 
As to the other object of repelhng foreign Invasion, I confess I 
see the subject in a different point of view, and must distinguish 



according to different local situations. In so far as Volunteer 
Corps are formed in towns on the sea coast, or in the neighbour- 
hood of it so as to co-operate with them, they certainly may be of 
essential service to make countenance against any small predatory 
landings which may be attempted on any of the different 
extended coast of Scotland, and against which, if they escape 
the vigilance of our Navy, it is impossible to provide a defence 
by the regular force of the country, let it be on the most extended 
scale that any man could suggest, or that the revenues of the 
country could bear. I must confess that with regard to the same 
kind of force in the interior of the country, and from the nature 
of their institutions limited to very narrow districts, I am not 
satisfied that their utiUty is great, or that they can be considered 
as forming any rational system for the general defence of the 
country against any foreign enemy. At the same time I am 
very far from meaning in any respect to derogate from their merit. 
I pay the highest tribute of applause and justice to their zeal, 
and unless the requisite force can be made up in some other mode, 
they are the best that the nature of the case admits under the 
present deficiency of regular force. 

This leads me to observe that in truth there is no solid resource 
in this point of view except by embodying a portion of the 
strength of the country, selected in the most impartial and equal 
way, for the defence of the remainder, and capable of being 
further augmented as circumstances may render necessary. You 
are already acquainted of my sentiments on this subject, by a 
letter which I had occasion to write to the Duke of Montrose 
last autumn. The more I think of it, I am the more satisfied of 
the propriety of my reasoning, and by the multitude of letters 
I have recently received from Scotland, I perceive that many 
are now converts to my opinion. In time of peace and for 
future security it may be sufficient annually to train all of the 
age of twenty, but for the immediate safety of the country it 
would be proper to ballot all those from twenty to thirty years of 
age inclusive, in order to ensure a certain supply of men to be 
embodied and regularly trained during the continuance of the 
war. Out of those so balloted, I should think it right, in the 
present moment, to embody under the King's authority to the 
amount of at least ten, but perhaps I would speak more wisely 
if I said at least twelve thousand men. If this was done, I 


would then wish the internal tranquillity of the country to rest 
on the Volunteer Corps, which have been incorporated for that 
purpose, aided by those local bodies of Horse Volunteers, which 
I understand have lately been established in some of the counties 
of Scotland, and which I would hope would become more 
general ; for I look to the same good effects to arise from them 
which have flowed from the establishment of the Yeomanry 
Corps in England. 

Supposing those measures to be followed out, I should then feel 
the country to be in a state of rational security ; but with that 
view I would certainly remedy that defect which I have stated 
in the beginning of this letter, I mean the want of any efficient 
body of force being collected together in any place for the purpose 
of acting against any enemy meaning to take the chance of 
escaping our Fleet, and coming against any vulnerable part of 
the country. 

I would propose to have 1500 regular force ; 2000 or 2500 
malitia force, with 3 or 400 cavalry and the due proportion of 
artillery, either encamped or cantoned at Dunbar or some other 
place about the mouth of the Firth of Forth, ready to move 
immediately if any hostile armament should appear with an 
intention to make a landing to attack Edinburgh, or any place 
within that side of the Firth ; and it is clear that, if any consider- 
able body of force should come to that quarter, the Metropolis 
or its neighbourhood must be the object, but it is obvious that 
by such a collected body of force, and in the position I have stated, 
any such attempt would unquestionably be frustrated. 

Upon the same principle I would have a collected force of 
about the same extent, and formed of similar materials, some- 
where on the coast of Montrose or Aberdeen (I don't pretend to 
fix upon the spot), for the protection of that North-East coast, 
and a third force of a similar nature still further north, probably 
at Fort George or thereabouts ; but here again I leave to others 
better acquainted locally with that part of the country to point 
out the spot. I only desire to be understood as explaining the 

Another force of a similar nature, and certainly not inferior 
to any of the others, ought to be cantoned or encamped as far 
as convenient down the Firth of Clyde, in order to be on the 
watch to march in a moment for the protection of that 



important coast against any considerable force that may be 
sent against it. 

I have not, you'll observe, in this discussion, taken any 
notice of that most recent and most valuable addition to the 
strength of the country, which has lately made its appearance in 
Scotland, in the shape of the various offers from the farmers 
in the country to transport from place to place the troops, 
ammunition, baggage, etc., of the army when called upon for 
that purpose. It is impossible to figure any system better 
calculated to answer the purposes of internal security, or more 
expressive of real usefull zeal and public spirit. It forms an 
essential part of all I have stated, as contributing to move with 
rapidity any part of the collected force that may be requisite 
to any point within the district where there are reasonable grounds 
to apprehend the attack is intended. 

I think I have now stated what will be sufficient to convey 
to you a distinct view of my sentiments on this business, which 
of course you will communicate to Lord Adam Gordon, in case 
he should be of opinion that any part of what I have stated is 
worthy of consideration. If any such plan is adopted, or any 
one upon similar principles, it appears to me that all the security 
is afforded to the country that the nature of the case admits of ; 
and such a force joined to the confidence we may justly repose 
on the superiority of our fleet, ought to keep the minds of the 
country quiet, and banish every unmanly gloom from our spirits. 
The Volunteer Corps on the coast would preserve it from any 
small predatory attempts, and if anything of more consequence 
should be attempted, the force which is collected in a body 
would be moved to their support and defence. Besides the 
Volunteer Corps on the coast, it will be observed that if there is 
such a force in the country as I have supposed, it would enable the 
Commander-in-Chief to add to the security of such intermediate 
places between the collected depots of force, as the danger or 
importance of any particular place might require. I send you 
along with this a paper the Duke of York put into my hands a 
few days ago. I believe His Royal Highness prepared it with the 
assistance of General David Dundas, and it will shew you in 
what way it is proposed to distribute the force in England, 
as well with a view to the strength of each district, as with a 
view to their mutually lending aid to each other, according to 



circumstances and the place of attack the enemy may chuse 
to fix upon. 

Having wrote at so great length, I will not have occasion to 
trouble you much more on the same subject, unless perhaps 
from time to time on such points as may occasionally cast up. 

I remain, My Dr Advocate, 

Yours affectly, 

Henry Dundas. 


(A) General. 

1. France and Europe. 

2. Great Britain and Ireland. 

3. Scotland : {a) Histories, Biographical Dictionaries, etc. ; 

(b) Modern Works dealing with Scotland and the 
French Revolution. 

(B) Special. 

1. Unpublished Material in Great Britain. 

2. Hist. MSS. Com. Reports. 

3. Parliamentary Debates and Acts of Parliament. 

4. Periodical Publications : {a) Contemporary ; (b) Review 

5. Biographical : (a) Primary ; {b) Secondary. 

6. County and Burgh Reform. 

7. Contemporary Books and Pamphlets dealing with the 

French Revolution and the Consequent Unrest in Great 
Britain : {a) Primary ; (b) Secondary — mainly Scottish 

8. The British and Irish PoHtical Societies and the State 


9. Contemporary French Sources — MS. and Printed. 

10. Ecclesiastical Affairs. 

11. Local History. 

12. Travels. 

13. Poetry, Drama, and Fiction. 



(A) General. 

I. France and Europe, 

Aulard, F. A. Etudes et Lemons sur la Revolution Fran9aise- 
Paris, 1892-1907. 

Alison, A. History of Europe from the Commencement of the 
French Revohition to the Restoration of the Bourbons, 
1774-1815. New edn. 14 vols. Lond. and Edin. 1849-50. 
Continued in the History of Europe, 1815-1852. 8 vols, 
and index. Lond. and Edin. 1852-9. 

Carlyle, T. The French Revolution. Ed. C. R. L. Fletcher. 
3 vols. Lond. 1902. 

Cambridge Modern History. Vol. viii. The French Revolution ; 
vol. ix. Napoleon. Camb. 1904 and 1906. Full Biblio- 

Lavisse, E., and Rambaud, A. N. Histoire Generale. Vol. viii. 

Paris, 1896. Full Bibhographies. 
Rose, J. Holland. The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Era. 

(Camb. Hist. Series.) Camb. 1901. Selected Bibliography. 
Sorel, A. L'Europe et la Revolution Frangaise. 6 vols. Paris, 


Stephens, H. M. European History, 1789-1815. (" Periods of 

European History " Series.) Lond. 1900. 
Sybel, H. von. Geschichte der Revolutionzeit von 1789 bis 1800. 

Trans. W. C. Perry. 4 vols. Lond. 1867-9. 

2. Great Britain and Ireland. 

Adolphus, J. History of England from the Accession of George 
III. 8 vols. Lond. 1840-1845. Valuable references to 
contemporary pamphlets. 

Brodick, G. C, and Fotheringham, J. K. History of England, 
1801-1837. (" PoHtical History of England " Series, vol. x.) 
Lond. 1906. Bibliography. 

Cunningham, W. The Growth of EngHsh Industry and Com- 
merce. Part ii. Camb. 1909. Full Bibliography. 

Dictionary of National Biography. 69 vols. Lond. 1885-1901. 

Hunt, W. History of England, 1760-1801. (" Political History 
of England " Series, vol. x.) Lond. 1905. BibHography. 



Lecky, W. E. H. History of England in the Eighteenth Century. 

8 vols. Lond. 1879-1890. 
Massey, W. History of England during the Reign of George 

HI. 4 vols. Lond. 1855-1863. 
May, T. E. The Constitutional History of England since the 

Accession of George III. 1760-1860. 3 vols. Lond. 1871. 

3. Scotland. 


Anderson, W. The Scottish Nation. 3 vols. Edin. 1860-3. 
Bremner, D. The Industries of Scotland. Edin. 1869. 
Buckle, H. T. Introduction to the History of Civilisation in 

England. Ed. J. M. Robertson, n.d. Chaps, xviii.-xx. 

" The Material and Intellectual Condition of Scotland in 

the Eighteenth Century." 
Brown, P. Hume. History of Scotland. Vol. iii. (1689-1843). 

(Camb. Hist. Series.) Camb. 1909. lUust. edn. (to 1910). 

Camb. 1911. Bibliography. 
Caw, J. L. Scottish Painting Past and Present, 1603-1908. 

Edin. 1908. 

Chambers, R. Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen. 

New ed. 5 vols. Glas. 1853-5. 
Craik, H. A Century of Scottish History (1745-1845). 2 vols. 

Edin. and Lond. 1901. 
Foster, J. Members of Parliament, Scotland, 1357-1832. 

Priv. printed. Lond. and Aylesbury, 1882. 
Graham, H. Grey. Scottish Men of Letters in the Eighteenth 

Century. Lond. 1901. 
Social Life in Scotland in the Eighteenth Century. 

New edn. Lond. 1906. 
M'Cosh, J. The Scottish Philosophy . . . from Hutcheson to 

Hamilton. Lond. 1875. Useful for biographical details. 
Mackintosh, J. History of Civilisation in Scotland. 4 vols. 

New edn. Lond. and Paisley, 1896. 
Mathieson, W. L. Scotland and The Union. A History of 

Scotland from 1695 to 1747. Glas. 1905. 
The Awakening of Scotland. A History from 1747 to 

1797. Glas. 1910. 
Millar, J. H. A Literary History of Scotland. Lond. 1903. 



Ramsay, Dean. Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character. 

New edn. Edin. and Lond. 1908. 
Rogers, C. Social Life in Scotland from Early to Recent Times. 

3 vols. Edin. 1884. 
Social England, ed. H. D. Traill and J. S. Mann. Illust. edn. 

6 vols. Lond. 1901-4. Vol. v. chaps, xviii. and xix. 
Young, T. P. Histoire de I'Enseignement primaire et secondaire 

en Ecosse, plus specialement de 1560 a 1872. Paris, 1907. 

Full Bibliography. 



W. L. Mathieson's The Awakening of Scotland, chap, iii., 
" The Political Awakening," is an admirable account, based 
almost wholly on printed material. P. Hume Brown's History 
of Scotland, vol. iii. chap, ix., " The Dundas Despotism and 
the French Revolution," is an excellent and suggestive out- 
line. Sir H. Craik's A Century of Scottish History, vol. ii. chap, 
xvi., " The Tory and Whig Parties in Scotland," is less scientific 
in treatment, and biassed on the Tory side. The subject is also 
dealt with, somewhat incidentally, in G. W. T. Omond's The 
Lord Advocates of Scotland, 2 vols., Edin. 1883, vol. ii. (Henry 
and Robert Dundas) ; and in the same author's The Arniston 
Memoirs, Three Centuries of a Scottish House, Edin. 1887. Mr. 
Omond was the first to print extracts from the Scottish documents 
now preserved in the Public Record Ofhce (P.R.O.), London, and 
he had also access to the Dundas papers in Arniston House. 

(B) Special. 

I. Unpublished Material in Great Britain. 
The chief unpublished sources are the volumes of Home 
Office (Scotland) Correspondence in the P.R.O., cited in the 
text as Scot. X^orr. As mentioned above, they were used by 
Mr. Omond, but he did not submit them to an exhaustive 
examination. They consist chiefly of the correspondence of the 
Home Secretary with the Lord Advocate of Scotland, arranged 
chronologically. Vol. i begins at 1782. The correspondence 
increases in bulk during the crisis of 1792-4, but thereafter 
resumes its normal proportion of one volume for one year. Vols. 



1-41 (1781-1832) have been consulted, as well as supplementary 
vols. 59-63, and the Entry Books, Entry Book Warrants, 
Criminal Books, and Criminal Entry Books which relate ta 

Of the P.R.O. Irish Correspondence, vols. 38-77 (1792-1798) 
have been used for the United Irishmen. 

The Scottish documents in the P.R.O. are partly supplemented 
by those in the Laing MSS. in the University of Edinburgh. 
Nos. 500 and 501, Div. ii., and No. 294 consist of a large number 
of letters to and from R. Dundas while Lord Advocate ; No. 295 
of a smaller packet to H. Dundas while Lord Advocate and Home 
Secretary. In the same collection (No. 113, Div. ii.) there is a 
short contemporary memoir of Robert Macqueen of Braxfield, 
Lord Justice Clerk, by Alex. Young, W.S. Among the general 
MSS. of the same University is a volume of letters to Dr. Carlyle 
of Inveresk, the well-known Moderate divine, many of which 
deal with the ecclesiastical poHtics of the time. Numerous 
extracts are given in C. Rogers' Social Life m Scotland, vol. lii. 
chap. xvii. The British Museum MSS. cited in the text are : 
the Pelham Correspondence, Add. MSS., No. 33,049 (appoint- 
ment of Lords-lieutenant in 1745), No. 33,108, f. 450 (letter of 
H. Dundas regarding patronage) ; the Auckland Papers, Add. 
MSS., No. 33,412, f. 352 (letter of H. Dundas regarding emigra- 
tion) ; No. 34,416 ff. 470,472 (Correspondence of H. Dundas and 
Adam Smith regarding free trade between Britain and Ireland) ; 
Banks Correspondence, Add. MSS., No. 33,982, f. 294 (Memorial 
for Gillies, Historiographer Royal for Scotland) ; Parochial 
Statistics of Scotland, Add. MSS., No. 15,746, compiled by 
George Chalmers, the Scottish antiquarian, from Webster's and 
Sinclair's Statistical Accounts of Scotland. In the Place Collec- 
tion, Add. MSS., Nos. 27,808-27,818, there is valuable material 
relating to the London Corresponding Society, including its 
Letter Books, Journal, and Correspondence, together with a large 
number of papers, printed and MS., referring to the State 
prosecutions in 1793, 1794, and 1798. 

2. Hist. MSS. Com. Reports. 
In connection with these, C. S. Terry's Index to the Papers 
relating to Scotland in the Hist. MSS. Com. Reports, Glas. 1908,. 
is useful. The MSS. of Robert Dundas, Esq., at Arniston, 



described in the Third Report, were unfortunately not available 
for the present work. Mr. Omond in his Arniston Memoirs has 
published some extracts. The Dropmore MSS., Thirteenth 
Report, Appends., contain some letters of, and numerous refer- 
ences to, H. Dundas, as well as some interesting " secret intelli- 
gence " papers relating to France. In the Rutland MSS., 
Fourteenth Report, Append. I., there are a few references to 
H. Dundas. 

3. Parliamentary Debates and Acts of Parliament. 

The debates in Parliament are given in the Parliamentary 
History of England, from vol. xx. (1780), Lond. 1814-19. The 
Acts are published as Statutes at Large (vol. ix. 1780), Lond. 
1786 et seq. The History of Two Acts (Treasonable Practices 
and Seditious Meetings), Anon., Lond. 1796, contains an account 
of the pubUc meetings, petitions, and parUamentary debates 
connected with them. 

4. Periodical Publications. 


The only general guide to Scottish newspapers is J. Grant's 
The Newspaper Press : Its Origin, Progress, and Present Condition, 
3 vols., Lond. 1871. An excellent account of Edinburgh 
periodicals is W. J. Couper's The Edinburgh Periodical Press, 
being a Bibliographical Account of the Newspapers, Journals, and 
Magazines issued in Edinburgh from the Earliest Times to 1800. 
2 vols., Stirling, 1908. Vol. ii. covers the period. The history of 
each paper is given, as well as the names of the libraries where 
extant copies are to be found. 

Leading articles were unknown in Scottish newspapers during 
the eighteenth century, and their poUtical complexion is to be 
gauged by the manner in which the news is selected and reported. 
Much information regarding political movements may be gleaned 
from the advertisements inserted by the various reforming 
societies. After 1793, the leading newspapers became Minis- 
terialist, few of the democratic periodical publications surviving 
the crisis in home affairs. 

The files of the Caledonian Mercury, a moderate " Revolution 
Whig " newspaper, have been examined for the years 1750 to 



1770, and from 1778 to 1798, and the Scots Magazine from 1780 to 
1798. The others mentioned below have been consulted on 
important points. Those marked with an asterisk were anti- 

The Bee, or Literary Weekly Intelligencer, 18 vols., Edin. 

The Edinburgh Evening Courant, files from 1792-6. 

* The Edinburgh Gazetteer (1792- 1793 ?). A few numbers in 
the Brit. Mus. and P.R.O., London. Of the * Caledonian 
Chronicle (1792-3), no copies have been discovered. 

The Edinburgh Herald, files from 1791-2. Supported from the 
Secret Service Fund. 

* The Historical Register or Edinburgh Monthly Intelligencer, 
July, August, October, December, 1791 ; January- July, 1792. 
Signet Library, Edinburgh. 

* The Historical Register or Universal Monthly Intelligencer, 
April-September, 1792. Signet Library, Edinburgh. 

* The Political Review of Edinburgh Periodical Publications, 

The Scottish Register, 1794-5. 

* The Scots Chronicle, 1796-1801. 

* The Glasgow Advertiser, files for 1789 to June 28, 1790, 1793, 
and 1794 have been consulted. These, with later issues, are in 
the Glasgow Herald Office, Glasgow. 

The Glasgow Courier, files for 1792-3. Stirling's Library, 

The Glasgow Mercury, files for 1790. 
The Anti- Jacobin Review, 1799. 

For the period 1802-1832, the Edinburgh Review, Blackwood's 
Magazine, and the Scotsman newspaper, have been referred to. 

In the British Museum Place Collection there are valuable 
cuttings from English newspapers from 1792 onwards. Vols. 
36-40 are labelled " Libel and Sedition," Politics," " Reform." 
W. T. Laprade in his England and The French Revolution, 1789- 
1797, Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins Press, 1909, quotes largely 
from contemporary English newspapers, of which he gives a list 
in his bibliography. 

The columns of La Gazette Universelle ou Le Moniteur Universel 
(cited in the text as the Moniteur), reveal French interest in 
Scottish affairs. It is significant that, in a pamphlet entitled 



A Few Thoughts on Political Subjects, Edin. 1792, the Scottish 
reformers were accused of " sending paragraphs to France." 


La Revolution Frangaise, xiv. 1888 : "La Politique Etran- 
gere du Comite du Salut PubHc," by F. A. Aulard. 

The Scottish Historical Review, July, 1909 : " The King's 
Birthday Riot in Edinburgh, June, 1792 " ; April, 1910 : " The 
Learning of the Scots in the Eighteenth Century " ; January, 
1911 : " Two Glasgow Merchants in the French Revolution " — 
Arts, by H. W. Meikle. 

Transactions of the Franco-Scottish Society, Edin. 1912. 
" Glasgow and the French Revolution," by H. W. Meikle. 

Others are mentioned under the special headings. 

5. Biographical. 


The most important is Lord Cockburn's graphic Memorials of 
His Times (1779-1850), Edin. 1875, new edn., Edin. 1909 — a 
unique record of the political and social history, primarily of 
Edinburgh, but also of Scotland as a whole. The same author's 
^'^f^ of J^ff^^y (1773-1850), 2 vols., Edin. 1852, contains much 
autobiographical material. Letters on the Affairs of Scotland 
from Henry Cockburn to Francis Kennedy . . . 1 818 to 18^2, 
Lond. 1874, is also authoritative. Allowance must be made for 
Cockburn's strong Whig views. Another Whig account of the 
capital is to be found in the opening chapters of the Autobiography 
of Mrs Fletcher (1770-1858), Edin. 1876. T. Somerville's My 
Own Life and Times (1741-1814) is of great value, Somerville 
being a Moderate divine of the best type. For general purposes 
the Autobiography of the Rev. Dr. Carlyle (1722-1805), ed. J. Hill 
Burton, Edin. and Lond. i860 (new edn., Edin. 1910), is more 
useful for the period preceding 1780 ; but as Carlyle was one of 
the leaders of the Moderate Party it is indispensable for later 
ecclesiastical affairs. Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth 
Century, from the MSS. of John Ramsay, Esq. of Ochtertyre, ed. 
A. Allardyce, 2 vols., Edin. and Lond. 1888, reflects the spirit 
of the Tory landed gentry of the time. There are some interest- 
ing notes in the early pages of Reminiscences of a Scottish 




Gentleman, commencing in 1787, by Philo-Scotus, Lond. 1861, 
and of the Life and Times of Henry Lord Brougham, written 
by himself, 2 vols., Edin. and Lond. 1871, vol. i. 

G. W. T. Omond's The Lord Advocates of Scotland, vol. ii., 
and his Arniston Memoirs, both already mentioned, are the main 
authorities for Henry and Robert Dundas. The Correspondence 
of George III. with Lord North, ed. W. A. Donne, 2 vols., Lond. 
1867, vol. ii. ; Memorials and Correspondence of C. /. Fox, ed. 
Lord J. Russell, 3 vols., Lond. 1853-4, vol. ii. ; Wraxall's 
Historical and Posthumous Memoirs, ed. H. B. Wheatley, 5 vols., 
Lond. 1884, are sources for the early career of Henry Dundas. 
There are contemporary character sketches in Cockburn's 
Memorials ; Somerville's My Own Life ; Brougham's Statesmen 
of the Time of George III,, 3 vols., Lond. 1855, vol. i. ; J. Sinclair's 
Memoirs of . . . Sir fohn Sinclair, 2 vols., Lond. 1837, vol. i. ; 
and J. G. Lockhart's Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk, 3 vols., 2nd 
edn., Edin. 1819, vol. ii. Other contemporary sources include 
A Letter to the Lord Advocate of Scotland, by Eugene, Edin. 1777 ; 
Criticisms on the Rolliad, Pt. I., 8th edn., Lond. 1788 ; The Melviad, 
or the Birth, Parentage, Education, and Achievements of a Crete 
Mon, by I-Spy-I, 3rd edn., Lond. 1805. Dundas's political life as 
the colleague of Pitt is traced in Lord Stanhope's Life of Pitt, 
4 vols., 2nd edn., Lond. 1862 ; at greater length, being based on 
ampler material, in J. Holland Rose's William Pitt and National 
Revival and William Pitt and the Great War, Lond. 191 1, and more 
briefly in Lord Rosebery's sketch of Pitt (" Twelve English 
Statesmen " Series), Lond. 1891. 

A. Fergusson's The Hon. Henry Erskine, Lord Advocate of 
Scotland, with notices of certain of His Kinsfolk and of His Time, 
Edin. and Lond. 1882, is the standard hfe of the leader of the 
Scottish Whigs. Of the numerous works on Burns, the best for 
this subject are A. Angellier's Robert Burns, Sa Vie et Ses (Euvres, 
2 vols., Paris, 1893, where the influence of the French Revolution 
on Burns is fully discussed ; and The Life and Works of Robert 
Burns, ed. R. Chambers, revised by W. Wallace, 4 vols., Edin. and 
Lond. 1896. J. G. Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter Scott, numerous 
reprints, provides much material for the political history of the 
time from the Tory point of view. In J. Kay's A Series of Original 
Portraits, edited with good biographical notices by J. Paterson 
and J. Maidment, 2 vols., Edin. 1838, there is a unique collection 



of portraits and caricatures of almost every personage mentioned 
in the text, especially those connected with the State trials. 


The following are of secondary importance. As a rule, the 
references in the text exhaust the information they afford on the 

Alger, J. G. Englishmen in the French Revolution. Lond. 
1889. His Paris in 1789-1794, Lond. 1902, contains refer- 
ences to the same subject. 

Allen, J. Biographical notice in his Inquiry into the Rise and 
Growth of the Royal Prerogative in England. New edn. 
Lond. 1849. 

Atkinson, R. H. M. B., and Jackson, G. A. Brougham and His 
Early Friends, Letters to James Loch, 1798-1809. 3 vols, 
priv. printed. Lond. 1908. 

Beattie, W. Life and Letters of Thomas Campbell. 3 vols. 
Lond. 1849. 

Benger, Miss. Memoirs of the Late Mrs. EHzabeth Hamilton. 

2 vols. 2nd edn. Lond. 1819. 
Campbell, Lord. Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of 

the Great Seal of England. 8 vols, and index. Lond. 

1845-1869. Vols, v.-viii. : Loughborough, Erskine and 


Carlyle, E. I. Life of Cobbett. Lond. 1904. 

Chevrillon, A. Sydney Smith et la Rennaissance des Idees 

Liberales en Angleterre au xix* Siecle. Paris, 1894. 
Conway, M. D. Life of Thomas Paine. Ed. H. B. Bonner. 

Lond. 1909. 

Craig, J. Life of John Millar, prefixed to his Origin of Ranks. 
4th edn. Edin and Lond. 1806. 

Forbes, M. Beattie and His Friends. Westminster, 1903. 

Forbes, W. An Account of the Life and Writings of James 
Beattie, LL.D. 2 vols. Edin. 1806. 

Eraser, A. C. Thomas Reid. (Famous Scots Series.) Edin. 1898. 

Gait, John. Autobiography. 2 vols. Lond. 1833. 

Grant, Mrs. Letters from the Mountains, being the Correspond- 
ence with her friends, between the years 1773 and 1803, 
of Mrs Grant of Laggan. Ed. J. P. Grant. 2 vols. 6th 
edn. Lond. 1845. 



Haldane, A. Memoirs of the Lives of Robert Haldane of Airthrey, 
and of His Brother, James Alex. Haldane. Lond. 1852. 

Hanna, W. Memoirs of Thomas Chalmers. 2 vols. Lond. 

Hardcastle, Mrs. Life of John, Lord Campbell. 2 vols. Lond. 

Holland, Lord. Memoirs of the Whig Party during My Time. 

Ed. Henry Edward, Lord Holland. 2 vols. Lond. 1852. 
Horner, L. Memoirs and Correspondence of Francis Horner, 

M.P. 2 vols. Lond. 1843. 
History of the Speculative Society of Edinburgh from Its 

Institution (1764). Edin. 1845. Contains biographical 

notices of the members. 
Jardine, W. Life of Alex. Wilson, in American Ornithology. 

3 vols. Edin. and Lond. 1832. 
Lichtenberger, A. Le Socialisme Utopique. Paris, 1898. Chap. 

viii. : Jean Oswald, Ecossais, Jacobin, et Socialiste. 
Mackintosh, R. Life of Sir James Mackintosh. 2 vols. Lond. 


Minto, Countess of. Life and Letters of Sir Gilbert ElHot. 3 

vols. Lond. 1874. 
Morley, J. Burke, a historical study. Lond. 1867. 

Burke. (E.M.L. Series.) Lond. 1904. 

Nicholson, A. Memoirs of Adam Black. Edin. 1885. 

Rae, J. Life of Adam Smith. Lond. 1895. 

Romilly, S. Memoirs. 3 vols. Lond. 1840. 

Seward, Anna. Letters of Anna Seward written between the 

years 1784 and 1807. 6 vols. Edin. 1811. 
Stewart, D. Biographical Memoirs of Adam Smith, William 

Robertson, and Thomas Reid, to which is prefixed a Memoir 

of Dugald Stewart by J. Veitch. Works of Dugald Stewart. 

Ed. W. Hamilton. Vol. x. Edin. 1858. 
Welsh, D. An Account of the Life and Writings of Thomas 

Brown, M.D. Edin. 1835. 
Younger, J. Autobiography of John Younger, Shoemaker, St. 

Boswells. Kelso, 1881. 

6. County and Burgh Reform. 
The best description of the Scottish burgh and county electo- 
rate before 1832 is E. and A. Porritt's The Unreformed House of 



Commons, 2 vols. Camb. 1903, vol. ii. with bibliography. T. H. 
B. Oldfield in vol. vi. of his Representative History of Great Britain, 
Lond. 1816, reprints the Report of the Committee of the {London) 
Friends of the People . . . appointed to examine into the State of 
the Representation of Scotland, (1793). It is also given in Political 
Papers, chiefly respecting . . . Reformation of the Parliament of 
Great Britain, collected by the Rev. C. W3rvill, 6 vols., York, 
1794-1802, which contain the correspondence of the Yorkshire 
Committee with sympathisers in Scotland. 

There is no history of the county reform agitation, but the 
various test cases are discussed in W. Bell's Treatise on the 
Election Laws, Edin. 1812 ; A. Connell's A Treatise on the 
Election Laws in Scotland, to which is added an Historical Enquiry 
concerning the Municipal Constitution of Towns and Burghs, 
Edin. 1830. A report of much value is a View of the Political 
State of Scotland in the Last Century : A Confi,dential Report on 
the Political Opinions, Family Connections, or Personal Circum- 
stances of the 2662 County Voters in 1788, ed. (with a good introduc- 
tion) by C. E. Adam, Edin. 1887. Similar compilations of less 
value, being merely hsts of voters without comment, are a 
View of the Political State of Scotland at the Late General Election, 
by Alex. Mackenzie (?), Edin. 1790, and J. Bridge's View of the 
Political State of Scotland at Michaelmas 1811, Edin. 1811. 

The following are the most useful contemporary pamphlets 
relating to county reform : 

Remarks on the Bill which was intended to be brought into 
Parliament in 1775 for annulling Nominal and Fictitious 
Qualifications. Edin. 1782. 

Observations on the Laws of Elections of Members of Parlia- 
ment. Edin. 1782. 

An Address to the Landed Gentlemen of Scotland upon the 
Subject of Nominal and Fictitious Qualifications . . . with 
Observations upon Two Sketches of Bills presented to the 
Standing Committee upon Freehold Qualifications at Edin- 
burgh. Edin. 1783. 

R. Fergusson, The Proposed Reform of the Counties of Scotland 
impartially examined. Edin. 1792. 

The story of the burgh reform movement is admirably told 
in A. Fletcher's Memoir concerning the Origin and Progress of the 



Reform proposed in the internal government of the Royal Burghs of 
Scotland, Edin. 1819. He gives extracts from the reports, etc., 
of the early reformers. These and other relevant publications 
are included in the following list : 

The Letters of Zeno to the Citizens of Edinburgh on the present 
mode of electing a Member of Parliament for that City 
(Edin.), 1783. 

A Letter from a Member of the General Convention of 
Delegates of the Royal Burghs to the Citizens of the Royal 
Burghs which have not yet acceded to the Plan of Reform. 
Edin. 1784. 

The Sett or Constitution of the Royal Burghs of Scotland as 
recorded in the Books of the Convention. Edin. 1787. 

Bill proposed to be submitted to the Consideration ... of 
Parliament for Correcting Abuses ... in the Internal 
Government of the Royal Burghs in Scotland. Edin. 1787. 

An Illustration of the Bill proposed to be submitted etc. Edin. 

Historical Accounts of the Government and Grievances of the 
Royal Burghs transmitted by Different Burghs associated 
for the purpose of Reform. Edin. 1787. 

Abstract of Facts respecting the Revenues of the Royal Burghs 
of Scotland. Lond., June 9, 1788. The reply of the anti- 

Observations by the Delegates ... on the case of the Town 
Councils stiling themselves the Royal Burghs of Scotland. 
Edin. (?), 1788. 

Memorials for Burgesses and Inhabitants of the Royal Burghs 
associated for correcting abuses etc. Edin. (?), 1789 (?). 

Substance of the Reports transmitted by the Committees of 
Burgesses of different boroughs etc. Edin. (?), 1789. 

State of the Evidence contained in the Returns to the Orders 
of the House of Commons regarding the illegal exaction, 
within the Royal Burghs in Scotland, of a greater sum in 
the name of land tax than is paid Government. Lond. (?), 

Report from the Committee to whom the several petitions 
presented to the House of Commons from the Royal 
Burghs of Scotland were referred. (1793.) Reprinted Glas. 



Documents connected with the Question of Reform in the 
Royal Burghs of Scotland. 2nd edn. Edin. 1819. 

A full study of the question should also include : 

General Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire 
into the state of Municipal Incorporations in Scotland, and 
Local Reports of the Commissioners, Municipal Corporations 
(Scotland), Parts i. and ii. London, H.M. Stationery Office, 

7. Contemporary Books and Pamphlets dealing with the French 
Revolution and the Consequent Unrest in Great Britain. 


The following are fully discussed in Chapter iii. : 
Burke, E. Reflections on the French Revolution. Ed. Payne. 
Oxford, 1886. 

B de, Mons. Reflections on the Causes and Probable 

Consequences of the Late Revolution in France with a 
View of the Ecclesiastical and Civil Constitution of Scotland 
(trans.). Edin. 1790. 

Christie, T. Letters on the Revolution of France and on the 
New Constitution established by the National Assembly 
occasioned by the Writings of the Rt. Hon. Edmund Burke, 
M.P. and Alex, de Calonne, late Minister of State . . . 
with an Appendix containing original papers and authentic 
documents. . . . Part i. Lond. 1791. 

Mackintosh, J. Vindiciae Galhcae. 4th edn. Lond. 1792. 

Paine, T. The Rights of Man, etc. Works. Ed. M. D. Conway. 
Vols, ii.-iv. New York and Lond. 1894-6. 


A full list of the Scottish pamphlets produced by the con- 
troversy could be drawn up from the advertisements in the 
Scots Magazine and other contemporary periodicals. Most of 
the following selection have been referred to in the text, and in 
the case of the others, even the titles are suggestive. Those 
marked with an asterisk were circulated by the Goldsmiths' 
Hall Association, and other " constitutional " societies. The 


majority of the pamphlets are in the Signet Library, Edinburgh, 
where they are conveniently catalogued. 

A Few Thoughts on Political Subjects submitted to the Con- 
sideration of the Manufacturers and Others in the West 
of Scotland. Edin. 1792. 

A Protest against T. Paine's " Rights of Man " addressed to 
the Members of a Book Society. 5th edn. Edin. 1792. 

* A Word in Season to the Traders and Manufacturers of 
Great Britain. 6th edn. Edin (?), 1792. 

An Address to the Associated Friends of the People by A 
Lover of His Country. Edin. 1792. 

Ask and You Shall Have. Lond. 1795. 

Asmodeus, or, Strictures on the Glasgow Democrats in a 
Series of Letters several of which were lately published in 
the Glasgow Courier. Glas. 1793. 

Biographical Sketches of Some of the Leading Men at present 
at the Head of Affairs in France. Edin. 1792. 

Callender, J. T. The Political Progress of Great Britain . . . 
tending to prove the Ruinous Consequences of the Popular 
System of Taxation, War, and Conquest. Edin. 1792. 
Pts. 1. and ii. Philadelphia, 1795. 

[Chalmers, G.] Francis Oldys. The Life of Thomas Paine 
with a Review of His Writings. Lond. 1792. Chalmers 
was the well-known Scottish antiquarian. This life is the 
source of the calumnies against Paine. 

Christie, A. The Holy Scriptures, the Only Rule of Faith and 
Liberty, asserted and maintained in sundry letters to the 
Kirk Session of Montrose. Montrose, 1790. 

Scripture Truths Humbly Addressed to All Christians, 

particularly such as are Candidates for a Seat in ParHament, 
and Their Electors, at the ensuing General Elections. 
Montrose, 1790. 

Christie, W. An Essay on Ecclesiastical Establishments in 
Religion ... to which are added Two Discourses by a 
Protestant Dissenter. Montrose, 1791. 

Cobbett, W. A Bone to Gnaw for the Democrats, or. Observa- 
tions on a Pamphlet entitled, " The PoHtical Progress of 
Britain." 3rd edn. Phila. 1795. 

Observations on the Emigration of Dr. Joseph Priestley. 

Phila. 1795. 



Dalgleish, W. The Excellence of the British Constitution and 
the Evil of changing It, demonstrated in Two Sermons. 
Edin. 1793. 

Douglas, N. A Monitory Address to Great Britain by Britanni- 

cus. (Poem.) Edin. 1792. 

The African Slave Trade. Edin. 1792. 

An Address to the Judges and Jury in a Case of Alleged 

Sedition on the 26th May, 1817. . . . Glas. 1817. 
Dunn, W. A Sermon preached from Rev. xxi. 5. Glas. 1792. 
Erskine, J. The Fatal Consequences and the General Sources of 

Anarchy. A Discourse on Isa. xxiv. 1-5. Edin. 1793. 
Facts, Reflections, and Queries submitted to the Consideration 

of the Associated Friends of the People. Edin. 1792. 
Free Communing ... or, A Last Attempt to cure the Lunatics 

now labouring under French Disease. Edin. 1793. 
Geddes, A. K. Carmen Seculare pro Gallica Gente Tyrrannidi 

Aristocraticae Erepta. A Secular Ode on the French 

Revolution translated from the original Latin. Lond. and 

Paris, 1790. 

Hardie, T. * The Patriot, addressed to the people on the 
present state of affairs in Britain and in France, with 
observations on Republican Government and discussions of 
the principles advanced in the writings of Thomas Paine. 
Edin. 1793. 

Fidelity to the British Constitution, the Duty and 

Interest of the People. Edin. 1794. 
The Importance of Religion to National Prosperity. 

Edin. 1794. 

Hill, G. The Present Happiness of Great Britain. A Sermon on 

Deut. xxxiii. 29. Edin. 1792. 
Keith, S. S. A Caution against Irrehgion and Anarchy. Edin. 


* Letters from the Friends of the People, or. The Last Words of 

a Weaver to His Children. Glas. 1792. 
Look before Ye Loup ... by Tam Thrum, An Auld Weaver. 

Edin. 1792. 

Look before Ye Loup. Pt. ii., or, Another Box of Healin' 
Sa' for Crackit Crowns of Country PoHticians. Edin. 1794. 

Macleod, N. Two Letters to the Chairman of the Friends of the 
People at Edinburgh. Edin. 1793. 



Macleod, N. Considerations on False and Real Alarms, dedicated 
with sincere and affectionate respect to the Earl of Lauder- 
dale. Lond. 1794. 

Mealmaker, G. The Moral and Political Catechism of Man. 
To which is added a narrative of the examination and 
imprisonment of the author for treasonable practices. 
Edin. 1797. 

Modern PoUtics. Edin. 1793. 

Observations on Paine's " Rights of Man." Edin. 1791. 
Pat-Riot, A New Song by Mr. Hewardine. Edin. 1794. 
Patriotic Wolves, A Poem by A Scotch Episcopal Clergyman. 
Edin. 1794. 

* Plain Questions to the Working People of Scotland. Edin. 

Political Preaching. ... A Letter addressed to the Rev. Wm. 

Dunn, Kirkintilloch. Glas. 1792. 
Reform or Ruin. Edin. 1798. 

Robison, J. Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions 
and Governments of Europe carried on in the secret meetings 
of the Free Masons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies, 
collected from good authorities. Edin. 1797. 3rd edn., 
corrected, Edin. 1798. 

Scott, A., Citizen and Hairdresser. Plain Reasons for adopting 
the Plan of the Societies calHng themselves Friends of the 
People. Edin. 1792. 

Sempill, Hugh, Lord. A Short Address to the Public on the 
Practice of Cashiering Military Officers without a Trial, and 
a Vindication of the Conduct and Political Opinions of the 
Author. . . . Lond. 1793. 

Shanks, A. Peace and Order recommended to Society in an 
Address to the Associated Congregation of Jedburgh from 
Jer. xxix. 7. Edin. 1793. 

Sketch of the Character of the Late Thomas Reid, D.D. . . . 
with Observations on the Danger of Pohtical Innovation, 
from a Discourse delivered on the 29th November, 1794, 
by Dr. Reid before the Literary Society in Glasgow College. 
Glas. 1796. 

Somerville, T. The Effects of the French Revolution with 
respect to the Interests of Humanity, Liberty, Religion, and 
Morality. Edin. 1793. 



Somerville, T. Observations on the Constitution and Present 

State of Great Britain. Edin. 1793. 
Taylor, W. An Address to the People of Scotland on French 

Irreligion and Impiety. Edin. 1794. 

* Ten Minutes' Reflection on the Late Events in France 

recommended by a Plain Man to his Fellow Citizens. 
Edin. 1792. 

The French Constitutional Code as Revised, Amended, and 
Finally Completed by the National Assembly. Edin. 

The Interests of Man in opposition to the Rights of Man, 
dedicated to Sir John Inglis of Cramond, Bart., and the 
other Gentlemen of the County and City of Edinburgh 
associated for the purpose of suppressing Sedition. Edin. 

The Phihstines, or. The Scotch Tocsin Sounders. Edin. 1793. 
The Reformers, A Satirical Poem. Edin. 1793. 
The Rights of Asses. (Poem.) Edin. 1793. 
The Rights and Powers of Juries ... by A Member of the 
College of Justice. Edin. 1791. 

* The Spirit of the Times. Glas. (?), 1793. 

The Telegraph : A Consolatory Epistle from Thomas Muir of 
Botany Bay to the Hon. Henry Erskine. (Edin.), 1796. 

The Telegraph Inverted ; or, Lauderdale's Peep at the Author 
and Adherents of the Telegraph. Edin. 1796. 

Thoughts on the Privileges and Powers of Juries suggested by 
the Case of James Robertson and ^Walter Berry, Printer 
and Bookseller. Edin. 1793. 

Wilde, J. An Address to the lately formed Society of the 
Friends of the People. Edin. 1793. 

Sequel to an Address to the lately formed Society of 

the Friends of the People. Edin. 1797. 

Young, J. * Essays on the Following Interesting Subjects, viz. — 
I. Government. II. Revolutions. III. British Govern- 
ment. IV. Kingly Government. V. ParHamentary Re- 
presentation. VI. Liberty and Equahty. VII. The Pres- 
ent War and the Stagnation of Credit connected with it. 
Edin. 1794. Numerous reprints. 



8. The British and Irish Political Societies and 
The State Trials. 

There is no monograph on the Scottish societies : their 
activities must be studied in the documents of the P.R.O. 
Scot. Corr. and in the contemporary press. The minutes of the 
first Convention of the Friends of the People in Scotland will 
be found in Appendix A, and the names of the delegates to the 
second in Appendix B of this work. The official minutes of the 
first are printed in the Report from the Committee of Secrecy of the 
House of Commons relative to the Proceedings of the Different 
Persons and Societies in Great Britain and Ireland engaged in a 
Treasonable Conspiracy, March 15, 1797, Pari. Hist, xxxiv. 
579 et seq. The minutes of the third, and of its successor, the 
British Convention, are given in the Second Report from the 
Committee of Secrecy of the House of Commons respecting Seditious 
Practices, May to June, 1794, Pari. Hist. xxxi. 844 et seq., 
and more fully in the State Trials, xxiii. 391 et seq. These 
reports were also issued in pamphlet form at Edinburgh and 
London. See also An Account of the Proceedings of the British 
Convention held in Edinburgh, the igth of November, 1793, by a 
Member, Lond. n.d. ; The Address of the British Convention 
assembled at Edinburgh, November 19, 1793, to the People of Great 
Britain, Lond. n.d. ; and J. Gerrald's A Convention the Only 
Means of saving us from Ruin, in a Letter addressed to the People 
of England (1793), new edn. Lond. 1796. 

Most of the relevant literature centres round Muir and his 
fellow " martyrs." P. Mackenzie's The Life and Trial of Thomas 
Muir, Glas. 1831, and the same author's Reminiscences of 
Glasgow and the West of Scotland, 3 vols. Glas. 1865-1883, have 
hitherto been the main sources of information. Mackenzie was 
a noted Radical of his day and these books are more or less 
political pamphlets. Of the same nature are Memoirs and 
Trials of The Political Martyrs of Scotland, Edin. 1837 ; The 
Trial of W. Skirving with an Original Memoir and Notes, Glas. 
1836 ; and The Trial of J. Gerrald with an Original Memoir and 
Notes, Glas. 1835. The last two are contained in the first. 
For Muir, see also the French sources mentioned below ; Histoire 
de la Tyrannie du Gouvernement Anglais exercee envers le Celebre 
Thomas Muir, Ecossais, Paris, an vi. (Brit. Mus.) ; F. Michel's 



Les Ecossais en France et les Frangais en Ecosse, 2 vols. Lond. 
1862, vol. ii. ; Old and New, vol. ix. 1894, Thomas Muir, art. by 
B. Drew (worthless for biographical purposes, but showing the 
interest excited in America by the trial) ; Notes and Queries, 4th 
series, vol. iii. 365, 389. There is an account of Margarot in the 
Place Coll. Brit. Miis. Add. MSS. No. 27816. G. Dyer's Slave 
and Famine Punishments for Sedition, 2nd edn. Lond. 1794, 
contains a sketch of Palmer. Further material will be found in 
A Narrative of the Sufferings of T. F. Palmer and W. Skirving 
during a Voyage to New South Wales, 1794, on board the Surprize 
Transport, by T. F. Palmer, Camb. 2nd edn. 1794 ; The Monthly 
Magazine, xvii. 83-5 ; The Monthly Repository, xii, 204, 261 
et seq. ; and the Diet. Nat. Biog. 

The various Reports of the Committees of Secrecy are also the 
contemporary sources for the English societies. As indicated in 
the text, they must be used with caution. Of the numerous 
pamphlets of the time The Proceedings of the Society of the Friends 
of the People associated for the purpose of obtaining a Parlia- 
mentary Reform in the year 1792, Lond. 1793, and A Collection of 
Addresses transmitted by certain English Clubs and Societies to 
the National Convention of France . . . 2nd edn. Lond. 1793, 
may be noted. 

For the United Scotsmen, see Reports from the Committees of 
Secrecy, 1797, and State Trials, xxvi. 1135-1179. For the 
United Irishmen the following works have also been consulted : 
The first and second Reports from the Committee of Secrecy of the 
House of Lords (Ireland), Dublin, 1798 ; Report from the Committee 
of Secrecy of the House of Commons of Ireland, 10th May, 1797, 
Lond. 1797 ; R. Madden, The United Irishmen, 7 vols. Lond. 
1842-6 ; W. Wolfe Tone, Life of Theobald Wolfe Tone, 2 vols. 
Washington, 1826 ; W. J. Fitzpatrick, Secret Service under Pitt, 
Lond. 1892 ; E. Guillon, La France et VIrlande pendant La 
Revolution, Paris, 1888 ; W. E. H. Lecky, History of England, 
vols. vii. and viii. 

The State Trials were edited by T. B. and T. S. Howell, Lond. 
1809-28. Vol. xxiii. begins with those of 1793. The Scottish 
trials are discussed from the Whig point of view in Lord Cock- 
burn's Examination of the Trials for Sedition in Scotland, 2 vols. 
Edin. 1888 ; and in D. Hume's Commentaries on the Law of 
Scotland respecting Crimes, 2 vols. Edin. 1844, and J. Burnett's 



A Treatise on Various Branches of the Criminal Law of Scotland, 
Edin. 1811, from the Tory standpoint. 

The chief Enghsh biographies relating to the subject are : 
G. Wallas's Life of Francis Place, Lond. 1898 ; Memoir of Thomas 
Hardy, written by himself, Lond. 1832 ; C. Cestre's fohn Thelwall, 
A Pioneer of Democracy and Social Reform in England during the 
French Revolution, Lond. 1906 ; F. D. Cartwright's Life and 
Correspondence of Major Cartwright, 2 vols. Lond. 1826. 

Of general works dealing with the political societies the follow- 
ing may be mentioned : J, B. Daly's The Dawn of Radicalism, 
Lond. 1892 ; C. Kent's The English Radicals, Lond. 1899 ; 
W. T. Laprade's England and the French Revolution, 1789-1797, 
Baltimore, 1909 ; E. Smith's The Story of the English Jacobins 
(based on the Place Collection), Lond. 1881 ; J. Holland Rose's 
William Pitt and the Great War, Lond. 191 1, chap, vii., " The 
British Jacobins." 

9. Contemporary French Sources — MS. and Printed. 

The archives of the French Foreign Office throw a flood of 
light on the opinions regarding the political condition of Great 
Britain and Ireland which prevailed in official circles during the 
Revolutionary era, and on the schemes for invading the British 
Isles. Most of the documents relate to England or Ireland, but 
there are various reports of officials, spies, and refugees on the 
state of Scotland. 

" Correspondance Politique " (Angleterre), tomes 584-602, and 
Supple. 21, and " Memoires et Documents " (Angleterre), tomes 
2 and 53, have been examined. There is a descriptive index to 
each volume. Akin to these sources is F. A. Aulard's La 
Societe des Jacobins, 6 vols. Paris, 1889-1897, vols. iii. and iv. 
of which have yielded a few references to Scotland. 

The following pamphlets in the British Museum Collection 
relating to the French Revolution reveal the French attitude 
towards Scotland during this period : 

Adresse des Anglois, des Ecossois, et des Irlandois residans et 
domicilies a Paris a la Convention Nationale, seance du 
28 nov. 1792. Imprime par ordre de la Convention 
Nationale, Paris, 1792. 



Brissot, J. P. Expose de la Conduite de la Nation envers le 

Peuple Anglais. Paris, 1793. 
Chas, J. Tableau Historique et Politique de la Dissolution et 

du Retablissement de la Monarchie Anglaise depuis 1625 

jusqu'en 1702. Paris, an viii. 
Constant, B. Des Suites de la Contre Revolution de 1660 en 

Angle terre. Paris, an vii. 
Diacon, J. Guerre a I'Angleterre. Paris, n.d. 
Dillon, A. Progres de la Revolution Fran9aise en Angleterre. 

Paris, ce 27 avril, 1792. 
Dorat-Cubieres. Prophetie Republicaine adressee a M. Pitt et 

a ses Complices . . . le 17 nivose de Tan ii. Paris (?). 
Gallet, P. A TEurope et au Gouvernement Anglais, un Apergu 

sur les Causes de la Guerre et sur les Resultats pour la 

Puissance Agressive. Paris, an xi. 
Lachevardiere, A. L. Discours sur la Constitution et le Gouverne- 
ment d' Angleterre, Prononce a la Societe des Jacobins a 

Paris, i^' pluviose de Tan deux. Paris. 
Mandar, Theo. Adresse au Roi de la Grande Bret ague sur . . . 

la Necessite d'une Prompte Paix. 3^ ed. Paris, an vii. 
P C Ode aux Frangais sur leur Pro jet de Descente 

en Angleterre. Paris, an xii. 
Peyrard, le c. Precis Historique des Principales Descentes qui 

ont ete faites dans la Grande Bretagne. 2^ ed. Paris, an vi. 
Response a la Declaration du Roi d' Angleterre relative- 

ment a ses Motifs pour continuer la Guerre actuelle. Paris, 

an ii. 

10. Ecclesiastical Affairs. 

The best general history is J. Cunningham's Church History of 
Scotland, 2 vols. Edin. 1859, written from the Presbyterian 
standpoint. An ultra-evangelical work is that of W. M. Hether- 
ington, History of the Church of Scotland, Edin. 1843. G. Grub's 
An Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, 4 vols.. Edin. 1861, treats 
the same subject from the Episcopalian point of view. The 
standard Roman Cathohc history is A. Bellesheim's History of 
the Catholic Church in Scotland (trans. Hunter Blair), 4 vols. 
Edin. and Lond. 1887. For the Seceders, see G. Struthers' 
excellent History of the Rise, Progress, and Principles of the Relief 
Church, Glasgow, 1843 ; J. M'Kerrow's History of the Secession 



Church, 2 vols. Edin. 1839 J Scott's Annals and Statistics of 
the Original Secession Church (with lists of pamphlets), Edin. 
1886. The fullest account of the Moderates will be found in 
W. L. Mathieson's Scotland and the Union, 1695-1747, Glas. 1905, 
chaps, vi. and vii., and the same author's The Awakening of 
Scotland, 1747-1797, Glas. 1910, chaps, iv. and v. 


A. Carlyle, op. cit., and T. Somerville, op. cit., are indispensable. 
There is a Biographical Memoir of William Robertson, the 
leader of the Moderates, in D. Stewart's Works, vol. x., ed. W. 
Hamilton, Edin. 1858. Robertson's successor was Dr. Hill, 
whose biography was written by G. Cook — Life of George Hill, 
Edin. 1850. H. Moncreiff Wellwood's Account of the Life and 
Writings of John Erskine, D.D., Edin. 1818, describes the 
policy of the Popular Party, especially regarding Patronage. 
J. F. Gordon's Life of Bishop Hay in his Journal and Appendix 
to Scotichronicon and Monasticon, Glas. 1867, traces the history of 
Roman Catholicism in Scotland during this period. A. Haldane's 
Memoirs of the Lives of Robert Haldane of Airthrey and of his 
brother James Alexander Haldane, Lond. 3rd edn. 1853, gives a 
too sympathetic account of these lay preachers. W. Hanna's 
Life of Dr Chalmers, 2 vols. Edin. and Lond. 1863, is useful for 
later ecclesiastical and social affairs. 


Patronage : 

Hardie, T. The Principles of Moderation addressed to the 
Clergy of the Popular Interest in the Church of Scotland. 
Edin. 1782. 

An Address to the People of Scotland on Ecclesiastical and 
Civil Liberty. Edin. 1782. 

An Inquiry into the Principles of Ecclesiastical Patronage and 
Presentation in which are contained Views of the influ- 
ence of this Species of Patronage on the Manners and 
Character of the People. Edin. 1783. 

A Speech addressed to the Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, April, 
1784. Glas. 1784. 



Missions and Lay Preaching : 
Warneck, G. Outline of a History of Christian Missions. 8th 
edn. Trans, by G. Robson. 3rd edn. Edin. and Lond. 

Account of the Proceedings and Debate in the General Assembly 

of the Church of Scotland, May 27, 1796. Edin. 1796. 
An Account of the Proceedings of the Society for Propagating 

the Gospel at Home. Edin. 1799. 
Douglas, N. Journal of a Mission to Parts of the Highlands of 

Scotland in 1797. Edin. 1799. The best of its kind. 
Haldane, J. Journal of a Tour through the Northern Counties of 

Scotland and the Orkneys in the Autumn of 1797. Edin. 


Haldane, R. Address to the Public concerning Politics and 
Plans lately adopted to promote Religion in Scotland. 
Edin. 1800. 

Hill, Rowland. Journal of a Tour through . . . Parts of 

Scotland etc. Lond. 1799. 
A Series of Letters occasioned by the Late Pastoral 

Admonition. Lond. 1799. 
Extracts of a Second Tour through Scotland. Lond. 


Jones, W. Memoirs ... of the Rev. Rowland Hill. Lond. 

Philip, M. J. Hans Neilsen Hauge, art. in Missionary Record of 
the United Free Church of Scotland, April, 191 1. 

Wilberforce, R. J. and S. Life of W. Wilberforce. 5 vols. 
Lond. 1838. 

Seceders and Sedition : 
Porteous, W. The New Light Examined. Glas. 1800. 
Peddie, J. A Defence of the Associate Synod against the 

Charge of Sedition addressed to Wm. Porteous, D.D. Edin. 


II. Local History. 

The Statistical Account of Scotland drawn up from Communica- 
tions of the Ministers of the Different Parishes, ed. Sir J. Sinclair, 
21 vols. Edin. 1791-99, is an original authority of great importance 
for the social condition of Scotland at the close of the eighteenth 




century. In not a few cases the writers touch on current poUtical 
affairs, especially the influence of Paine's works on their 

Most of the local histories of Scotland are antiquarian rather 
than political. The following have been found useful : 
Chambers, W. A History of Peeblesshire. Edin. and Lond. 

Cowan, S. The Ancient Capital of vScotland (Perth). 2 vols. 
Lond. 1904. 

Craig-Brown, T. A History of Selkirkshire. 2 vols. Edin. 1886. 
Creech, W. Edinburgh Fugitive Pieces. Edin. 1815. 
Henderson, E. The Annals of Dunfermline. Glas. 1879. 
M'Dowall, W. History of Dumfries. Edin. 1867. 
Metcalfe, W. M. A History of Paisley. Paisley, 1909. 
Miller, J. The Lamp of Lothian (Haddington). Haddington. 

New edn. 1900. 
Wilson, J. Annals of Hawick, 1214-1814. Edin. 1850. 
Wilson, R. History of Hawick. 2nd edn. Edin. and Hawick, 


12. Travels. 

For a full list of travellers in Scotland during this period, see 
A. Mitchell's List of Travels and Tours in Scotland (1296-1900), 
reprinted from the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of 
Scotland, vol. xxxv., Edin. 1902, and continued in vol. xxxix. 

Cobbett, W. Tour in Scotland and in the Four Northern 
English Counties in the Autumn of the Year 1832. Lond. 

Heron, R. Observations made in a Journey through the Western 
Counties of Scotland in the Autumn of 1792. 2 vols. 2nd 
edn. Perth, 1799. 

Latocnaye, M. de. Promenade d'un Fran^ais dans ITrlande. 
Dublin, 1797. 

Lettice, I. Letters on a Tour through Various Parts of Scotland 
in the Year 1792. Lond. 1794. 

Moore, J. A Journal of a Residence in France from the beginning 
of August to the middle of December, 1792, to which is 
added an Account of the most remarkable events that 
happened at Paris from that time to the death of the late 
King of France. 2 vols. Lond. 1793. 



Pichot, A. Historical and Literary Tour of a Foreigner in 
England and Scotland. 2 vols. Lond. 1825 ; also 3 tomes, 
Paris, 1825. 

13. Poetry, Drama, and Fiction. 

Burns, R. Life and Works, ed. R. Chambers. New edn. ed. W. 

Wallace. 4 vols. Edin. and Lond. 1896. 
Campbell, T. Poetical Works, with biographical sketch, ed. 

W. A. Hill. Lond. 1851. 
Wilson, A. Poetical Works, also his Miscellaneous Prose 

Writings, Journals, Letters, Essays, etc. Belfast, 1844. 

Fyfe, A. The Royal Martyr, King Charles I. A Tragedy. 
Lond. 1709. 

Logan, J. Poems and Runnamede, A Tragedy. New edn. with 
hfe of the author. Edin. 1805. 

The historical novels of John Gait are of great value. Having 
lived during the period, he described the changes which he him- 
self had witnessed, and in his Annals of the Parish (1760-1810) 
he gives a realistic picture of the social and political condition of 
Scotland during the second half of the eighteenth century. 
The Provost depicts municipal affairs before 1833. Scott being 
a more imaginative writer, is of less importance in this connection ; 
but in The Antiquary (" Border Edition," ed. A. Lang, Lond. 
1898) he draws largely upon his own experiences for the de- 
scription of the " False Alarm " and the poHtics of " Fairport." 
St. Ronan's Well deals with certain aspects of Scottish society 
about 1823. The hero of E. H. Strain's A Prophet's Reward, 
Edin. and Lond. 1908, is Thomas Muir, the historical details 
being reproduced from contemporary sources. 


Abercromby, James, 232, 234. 
Aberdeen, 18, 44, 67, 81, 97, 22in, 

225, 237. 
Aberdeen Journal^ the, 57. 
Acapulco, 172. 

Address on Civil and Ecclesiastical 

Liberty, 36. 
Address to the Nation at Large, 90. 
" Address to the Synod of Glasgow and 

Ayr," Wilson's, 121. 
Addresses, loyal, 2, 5, 52, 80, 102, 115, 


Advocate, Lord, powers of the, 231, 

Advocates, Faculty of, 2n, 130, 159, 

Age of Reason, Paine's, 194. 

Aherne, Captain, 168. 

Aitchison, Alexander, 125, Appendix 

A, passim. 
Alfred, King, 109, 143. 
Alison, Sir Archibald, 49W, 236. 
Allen, John, 72, Appendix A, passim. 
America, United States of, i32n, 135, 

146, 157. 

American War of Independence, i, 2, 

3n, 5, 14, 41, 43, 57, 178. 
Anderson, James, editor of the Bee, 

88, 114. 

Anderson, Professor John, y^n. 
Annan, 20. 

Anti-Burgher Synod, 198, 199, 200, 

Anti-Jacobin Review, the, 211. 
Arbroath, 21. 

Assembly, General, the : compared 
with the Scottish Estates, xvi, 35 ; 
debate on the Rockingham Ministry, 
2 ; a training ground of politicians, 
27 ; on patronage, 39 ; celebrates 
the centenary of 1688, 41-2; Test 
Act debate, 68 ; Moderator's ad- 

dress, i95n ; debate on Augmenta- 
tion Bill, 203 ; regulates Chapels of 
Ease, 204 ; debate on missions, 205 ; 
issues the Pastoral Letter, 209, 211. 
AthoU, Duke of, 96 », 182, i87«, 

Auchterderran, 66. 
Auckland, Lord, 83. 
Aulard, F. A., cited, 165. 
Ayr, 229. 

Ayr Advertiser, the, 231. 
Ayrshire, 222. 

Baird, John, 229. 
Baird, Thomas, 223. 
Balfour of Pilrig, John, 100. 
Banff, 21, 138;!, 
Barere, Bertrand, 166, 
Barracks, erected in Scotland, 113, 

Barras, Paul, 130. 

B de, Mons. : his Reflections on 

the French Revolution, 34, 42*1, 
47-9, 6sn. 

Beacon, the, 232. 

Beattie, James, 49-50, 64, i44n. 

Bee, the, 80, 88, 114. 

Binns, John, 189, 190. 

Birmingham riot, 67, 70. 

Black Dwarf, the, 226, 227n, 231. 

" Black Nebs," 154. 

Blackstone's Commentaries, 16, 60. 

Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, 
217, 236. 

Bonaparte, Napoleon, 171, 177, 214. 
Bonnymuir, 229. 
Boswell, Sir Alexander, 232. 
Boswell, James, xixn, i6n, 33n. 
Boyle, David, 205. 

Braxfield, Lord Justice Clerk, 123, 
132W, 134-6, 144, 151, 184, i85n, 
i89n, 230. 



Brechin, 20, 187, 22in. 

British Convention, the, 140-146, 149, 

150, 151, 154, 166-7, i75» i86n, 187, 

i92n, 219, 221. 
Brougham, Lord, 41W, 157, 216, 224n. 
Broughton (Edinburgh), 140. 
Brown, Dr. James, 156. 
Brown, M. C, 138, i44n, i66n. 
Brown, P. Hume, cited, 27. 
Buccleuch, Duke of, 13, 95, 99n. 
Buchan, Earl of, 7, 12-13, 104. 
Buchanan, George, 57, 58, 59, 171. 
Burdett, Sir Francis, 222. 
Burgh reform, v. Reform. 
Burgher Synod, 198, 199, 200. 
Burghs, Royal, Convention of, 19, 23, 


Burke, Edm^und, 3 ; on the French 
Revolution, 46, 69n; his Reflec- 
tions, 46, 49, 50-53, 55, 56, 60, 61, 
62, 67; on the Test Act, 67, 69n ; 
on the Scottish clergy, 201. 

Burns, Robert : presents carronades to 
the National Assembly, 75n ; sedi- 
tious toast of, ii2n; influence of 
the French Revolution on, 120-122 ; 
at Dumfries Theatre, i48n ; a Vol- 
unteer, 154. 

Bute, Earl of, xvii, 7. 

Butler, Hon. Simon, i4on. 

Caithness, 8. 

Caledonian Chronicle, the, I29n. 
Caledonian Mercury, the, i, 5, 87, 91, 

Callender, J. T., 114. 

Cameron, Angus : opposes the Militia 

Act, 177, 182, 183, 184, i87n, 191, 


Cameronians, the, 210. 
Campbell (?), opposes the Militia Act, 
177, 188. 

Campbell, Hay, Lord President, 32, 

131, i32n, 153. 
Campbell, John, missionary, 207, 


Campbell, John, 224. 
Campbell, Lord John, 28n, 42n. 
Campbell, Thomas, the poet, 145, 156, 

Camperdown, battle of, 171. 

Carlyle of Inveresk, Dr. Alexander, 

xviii, 38, 203. 
Carron, 62, 229. 
Carstairs, 181. 

Cartwright, Major, 219, 221. 

Catholic Emancipation Act, 235. 

Chalmers, Thomas, 156. 

Chapels of Ease, 204. 

Christie, Alexander, 53, 54. 

Christie, John, i82n, 188. 

Christie, Thomas : his Letters on the 

French Revolution, 53-6, 57, 60, 61, 


Christie, William, 53, 54. 

Chronique de Paris, cited, 162. 

Church of Scotland, v. General Assem- 
bly, Moderates, Popular Party. 

Clarence, Duke of, 88. 

Clerk, J., of Eldin, 18, 72. 

Clydesdale Journal, the, 231, 232. 

Coal duty, repealed, loi. 

Coalition of Fox and North, 5, 25. 

Cobbett, William, 114W, 132W, i73n, 
221, 226, 227^, 231. 

Cockburn, Lord : cited, 29, 31, 131, 
153. i55> 156, 157. 203, 214, 217, 
219, 224, 230; on law reforms, 230; 
on the powers of the Lord Advocate, 
233 ; Solicitor General, 235, 237. 

Coleridge, S. T., 121. 

Colquhoun, Archibald, Lord Advocate, 
218, 219. 

Combination Acts, the, 219. 

Committees of Secrecy, Parliamentary, 
149, 151, 189. 

Condorcet, 56, 98, 130, 161. 

Constitutional Information, Society 
for, 78, 79, io6n, 138, 149, 219. 

Constitutional Letters, 88. 

Corn Laws, the, 67, 72-4, 88, 97, 100, 
157, 192, 220. 

County reform, v. Reform. 

Coupar-Angus, 187, 22 in. 

Covenant, the National, and the 
Solemn League and, 199, 200. 

Cranstoun, George, 157. 

" Crappies," 154. 

Creech, W., 3, 5471. 

Cromwell, Oliver, 117. 

Culross, 115. 

Cunningham, Dr. W., cited, 220. 
Cupar, 187, 22in. 

Daer, Lord, a " Friend of the People," 
106-111, Appendix A, passim, 122, 

Dale, David, 63. 
Dalkeith, ii6n, 123. 
Dairy, 182. 



Dalrymple, Lieut.-Colonel, a " Friend 
of the People," 71, 92, 96, 106-111, 
Appendix A, passim. 

David, Louis, 173. 

Delacroix, J. V., French Foreign 
Minister, 168, i7on. 

Delolme's Treatise, 60. 

Dempster, George, M.P., xviii, 23, 
27W, 100, 103. 

Dorat-Cubieres, 167. 

Douglas, Rev. Neil, i^yn, 210, 223. 

Downie, David, trial of, 150-3, 178. 

Dublin, 108, 131, 148W, 190. 

Dumbarton, 23, 171, 222, 229. 

Dumfries, 20, ii6w, 148W, 192W. 

Dumouriez, General, 96. 

Dunbar, Professor, 57. 

Duncan, Admiral, 170, 171. 

Dundas, Henry (ist Viscount Mel- 
ville) : friend of Adam Smith, i^n ; 
opposes burgh reform, 24 ; his atti- 
tude to Pitt's reform schemes, 25 ; 
his career, power, and character, 
25-32 ; withdraws the Roman Catho- 
lic Relief Bill, 34; Dr. Carlyle's 
letter to, 38; "King of Scotland," 
67 ; opposes repeal of the Test Act, 
6S-9 ; burned in effigy, 81, i63n ; 
correspondence with the Lord Pro- 
vost of Edinburgh, 72, 84, 90 ; op- 
poses burgh reform, 74-7 ; proposes 
the gradual abolition of the slave 
trade, 77-8 ; on Highland emigra- 
tion, 83; supposed attack on, 89; 
Watt's reports to, 89, 90 ; de- 
nounced in a broadsheet, 91 ; visits 
Scotland in 1792, 93, 102, io3n ; 
reports to Pitt and Grenville, 94-5 ; 
opposed to the repeal of the corn 
laws, 100; repeals the coal duty, 
loi ; correspondence with Pitt, loi ; 
on English Militia, 102 ; his schemes 
for counteracting the reformers, 
102-3, iiyn; suspects the Seceders, 
103, 198; reports sent to, no ; estab- 
lishes a Government newspaper, 
120; correspondence with Robert 
Dundas, 114, 115, 116, 129; his Bill 
to control municipal expenditure, 
126; correspondence of Hay Camp- 
bell with, 132W; refers Muir's trial 
back to the judges, 136 ; proposes 
Lords-lieutenant, 148 ; his letters to 
Pitt on Watt's conspiracy, 150; 
agrees to a Commission of Oyer and 

Terminer, 151 ; Chancellor of St. 
Andrews University, 156 ; presents 
Scottish petitions in favour of the 
'I'reason Bill, 158; French spy's re- 
port of, 165 ; his views on militia 
and the defence of Scotland, 179, 
Appendix C ; appointed Secretary 
for War and the Colonies, i8on ; 
urges enforcement of the Militia 
Act, 183 ; ascribes disorders to 
Jacobinism, 185 ; his church policy, 
195-8 ; defeats Augmentation Bill, 
201, 203 ; controls church patronage, 
202W ; against missions, 206-7; i"^- 
peached, 217; death of, 218; his 
charter to Stirling, 225. 

Dundas, Robert (2nd Viscount Mel- 
ville), 216, 217-8, 226W, 233-4. 

Dundas, Robert, Lord Advocate : ap- 
pointed Lord Advocate, 32 ; opposes 
repeal of the Patronage Act, 38 ; and 
of the Test Act, 68-69 *> invited to a 
Revolutionary dinner, ym ; opposes 
burgh reform, 77; town house at- 
tacked, 81 ; on the Edinburgh riot, 
82 ; advised by Pulteney, 103 ; a 
founder of the Goldsmiths' Hall 
Association, 104 ; correspondence 
with H. Dundas, 114-5, 116, 129, 
179 ; defeats county reform, 127-8 ; 
conducts state trials, 131-6, 142-6, 
150-153, 188 ; proceeds against the 
British Convention, 139, 141 ; chal- 
lenged by Hamilton Rowan, i4on; 
on the Militia Act, 180 ; ascribes 
riots to Jacobinism, 184 ; refuses to 
prosecute the soldiers, 185 ; his deal- 
ings with Lapslie, 196; attitude to 
Unitarians, i97n ; prepares Augmen- 
tation Bill, 20in ; correspondence of 
Rev. Dr. Porteous with, 208-9; ap- 
pointed Lord Chief Baron, 2i^n; 
loss of influence of, 233. 

Dundas, Sir Thomas, 26n, i27n. 

Dundee : Incorporated Trades of, 36; 
Address of the Whig Club to the 
National Assembly, 44-6, 5in ; popu- 
lation of, 63 ; taking of the Bastille 
commemorated at, 70, 71 ; H. Dun- 
das burned in effigy at, 81 ; Tree of 
Liberty set up there', 96-7, 100, 102, 
i63n; address against the war 
printed at, 129; "Friends of 
Liberty," 135, 147; corn riots in, 
158, 220; Mealmaker apprehended 



at, 187; Cartwright visits, 22in ; 

V. also Friends of the People. 
Dundee Advertiser, the, 231, 2^6n. 
Dunfermline, 21, 63, ggn, i55n, 188, 

Duns, 81, 82. 
Dutch, the, loi, 170-1. 

East India Company, the, 206. 
Eccles, 184. 

Edinburgh : proposed political meeting 
at, 3 ; Logan's Runnamede at, 4 ; 
mode of electing M.P., 16, 22 ; in- 
solvent, 2in ; Dundas's power in, 
30 ; anti-popish riot in, 39 ; popula- 
tion of, 63; King's Birthday riot, 
67, 81, 107; taking of the Bastille 
commemorated at, 70-72 ; news- 
papers of, 86-8 ; Goldsmiths' Hall 
Association founded at, 103 ; theatre 
riot at, 147-8 ; distress in, 157 ; peti- 
tions against the Treason Bill, 159 ; 
French spy visits, 170; Jameson 
visits, 186; United Scotsmen ar- 
rested at, 188; Unitarians of, i97n ; 
opposes the Corn Laws, 220 ; visited 
by Cartwright, 22in ; Pantheon 
meeting there, 229 ; M.P. allotted 
to, 237 ; Reform Jubilee, 237. 

Edinburgh Abolition Society, 78. 

— Burgess Golf Club, 116. 

— Burgh reformers, v. Reform. 

— Castle, 112, ii3n, 150, ij6n, 224. 

— Friends of the People, v. Friends 

of the People. 

— General Sessions, 39. 

— Lord Provost of, 24, 3on, 32n, 81, 

84, 90, 113, 131, 142. 

— Merchant Company, 17, 18. 

— Missionary Society, 205. 

— Pantheon Debating Society, 2, 3n, 

6, i62n. 

— Revolution Society, 53. 

— Town Council, 52, 82. 

— Trades Union Council, 237. 

— United Grocers, 116. 

— University, 57, 107, i$6n. 

— Volunteers, 154. 
Edinburgh Advertiser, the, 87. 
Edinburgh Evening Courant, the, 51, 


Edinburgh Gazetteer, the, 91, 123, 128, 
i29n, i37«, 140, 141, 142, lysn. 

Edinburgh Herald, the, 4311, 44, 86, 
87, 116. 

Edinburgh Review, the, 216, 230, 233. 
Education in Scotland, 65, 119, 155, 

Elliot, Sir Gilbert, 27n, 51, 68, 69, 
io2n, 104. 

Emigration, Highland, 83, 84, 88. 

EncyclopMistes, the, cited, xix. 

Episcopal Relief Bill, 196. 

Erskine, Henry : defends the Rocking- 
hams, 2; Lord Advocate, 5, 26; a 
burgh reformer, 18 ; the Political 
State compiled for, 29 ; welcomes 
the French Revolution, 49 ; tries to 
counteract its effects, 75 ; supports 
the abolition of the slave trade, 78 ; 
refuses to join the Friends of the 
People, 104-5 5 reported to approve 
of their resolutions, 108; proposes 
loyal resolutions of the Highland 
Society, 115; a county reformer, 
i27n ; deprived of his Deanship, 
159-160 ; Fox refers to, i84n. 

Erskine, Rev. John, 195, I96n, 205. 

Erskine, Thomas, 104, 129, 144, 159. 

Eskgrove, Lord, 65, 13 in. 

Ewen, John, 16. 

Excise, Scoitish, 58, 88, 100. 

Fairley, John, 152. 

Fallvirk, 171. 

" False Alarm," the, 215. 

Fencible Corps, 148, 182. 

Ferguson, Adam, 7. 

Fergusson, R., 72, 11 in. 

Fife, 63, 182, 187, 193. 

'Fifteen, the, 5, 42. 

Finlay, Kirkman, M.P., 224, 

Fisheries, Scottish, 62. 

Fletcher of Saltoun, Andrew, 171, 175. 

Fletcher, Archibald, burgh reformer, 

14, 18, 49, 72, 104-5, 142, 225. 
Fletcher, Mrs. Archibald, 105, 155, 


Forfar, 22in, 227n. 

Forfarshire, 65, 98, 187. 

Forfeited Estates, restored, 83. 

Forsyth, Robert, a " Friend of the 
People," 106. 

'Forty-Five, the, xv, 5, 42, 62, 226n. 

Fowler, Robert, a " Friend of the 
People," no, 123, Appendix A, pas- 

Fox, Charles James : coalition with 
North, 5 ; Scottish reformers apply 
to, 24 ; supports parliamentary re- 



form, 25 ; on the French Revolu- 
tion, 46 ; and the Test Act, 68 ; 
supports Scottish reform, 74; not a 
"Friend of the People," 79; 
praises the French citizen army, 
113; receives T. Muir, 129; on 
Muir's trial, 136 ; opposes the Trea- 
son Bill, 159 ; on H. Erskine, 184W ; 
and the Episcopal Relief Bill, 196^. 
France : privileges of the bourgeois 
of, 16; state of, in 1791, 58; as- 
sumes a menacing attitude, loi ; 
Fox praises, 113; interested in 
Scottish sedition trials, 135 ; pros- 
pects of peace with, 158 ; and the 
British democrats, 161-4; opinions 
of Scotland prevailing in, 163-4 > i"" 
terested in the British Convention, 

French Committee of Public Safety, 
the : orders Muir to be rescued, 
146, 167 ; foreign policy of, 165-6. 

— Convention, the : gun presented to, 

75n ; receives addresses from 
English Clubs, loi, 149; issues 
decree of fraternity, loi ; its 
forms adopted by the British 
Convention, 144. 

— Directory, the, and plans for invad- 

ing the British Isles, 167-177. 

— National Assembly, the : reply to 

the Dundee Whig Club, 45 ; sub- 
scription in Glasgow for, y^n, 
164 ; its rules for debate adopted 
by the Friends of the People, 108. 

— Revolution, the (1789) : beginning 

of, 42 ; Burke's views of, 46, 
6gn ; Fox's views of, 46 ; Scot- 
tish sympathy for, 49 ; English 
Dissenters praise, 67-8 ; begin- 
nings of its effects on Scottish 
reforms, 69 ; commemorated in 
Scotland, 70-72 ; its influence on 
Scottish reform, 74, 215, 222W ; 
newspapers due to, 86; inspires 
dread of revolution in Scotland, 
98, 153; discussed in America, 
135 ; its influence on the Church 
of Scotland, chap, x, passim ; end 
of its direct influence on Scot- 
land, 214. 

— Revolution, the (1830), 235, 236. 
Freuchie, 182. 

Friends of Liberty, Society of the, 135, 

Friends of the People, Societies of the : 
founded in London, 77, 79 ; iden- 
tified with revolutionaries, 85 ; 
first Scottish society, 86 ; spread 
of, 91 ; organisation of, 92-3 ; 
their leaders held to be republi- 
cans, 98 ; reported believers in 
equal distribution of land, 99 ; 
attitude of burgh reformers to, 
104-5 > First Convention of, 105- 
III, 175, Appendix A, passim; 
pamphlets against, 118, 199; dis- 
couraged, 122 ; opposed to war, 
124, 126, 128 ; Second Conven- 
tion of, 125-6, i65n. Appendix B, 
passim ; effect of the trials on, 
137 ; adopt a more dangerous 
policy, 138 ; Third Convention 
of, 139 ; the British Convention^ 
140-144 ; few societies survive, 
146; Watt's conspiracy and, 150- 
153; Volunteers to suppress, 
154; Jameson meets former 
members of, 186. 

— individual societies of : Dundee, 91, 
147, 152; Dunfermline, 99n ; 
Edinburgh, 86, 89, 90, 95, 96, 
98n, 106, 107, 112, 122, 128, 137, 
146, 150-3, (Abbeyhill) 123, 
(Canongate) 123, 137, (Lawn- 
market) 122, 123, (Portsburgh) 
i39n ; Glasgow, 86n, 92, 94, 98n, 
124, 139, 146; Kilmarnock, 92;. 
Kincardine, io6n; Kirkintilloch^ 
92; London, 77, 79, 90W, 92, 93, 
104, 106, 109, 129, 135, 138, 
140 ; Montrose, 93*1 ; Paisley ^ 
92, 93n, 124, 152 ; Penicuik, 
140; Perth, 92, 124, 147, 151; 
Selkirk, 125; Stirling, 125, 146; 
Strathaven, 147, 152; Wigtown, 
io6« ; V. also Appendices A and 

Galloway, Lord, 22. 

Galston, 182. 

Gait, John, cited, 41. 

Gardenstone, Lord, 18, 114. 

Gerrald, Joseph : delegate to the 
British Convention, i27n, 138, 140,. 
140-141, i55n, 238; trial of, 142- 
146 ; death of, 219W. 

Gibson, James (Sir James Gibson- 
Craig), 72n, 232. 

Gillies, Adam, afterwards Lord Gillies^ 
18, 223, 224n, 23on. 



Gillies, John, Historiographer Royal, 

Glasgow : Synod of, 2 ; and the Coali- 
tion Ministry, 5 ; and the Yorkshire 
Committee, 7 ; burgh reform peti- 
tion of, 24 ; subscription coffee room 
of, 43W ; linen manufacture of, 62 ; 
population of, 63 ; strike in 1787, 
64 ; taking of the Bastille commemo- 
rated at, 70, 71 ; protests against 
the Corn Bill, 73 ; burgh reform 
society of, 75-6 ; subscription for the 
French raised in, 75n, 164 ; bar- 
racks erected at, 113 ; loyalist litera- 
ture provided for, 117; opposes the 
war, 124, 129; wages in, 158; peti- 
tions against the Treason Bill, 159 ; 
French spies visit, 164, 170 ; not to 
be trusted with arms, 179?! ; Jameson 
in, 186 ; United Scotsmen of, 187, 
189 ; United Irishmen there, igm ; 
Sunday schools of, 209; Camer- 
onians of, 210; cotton spinners' 
strike at, 218-220 ; corn riot there, 
220; Cartwright visits, 22in; secret 
committees in, 222 ; radicals of, 
226-231 ; defective police system of, 
227 ; Commission of Oyer and Ter- 
miner at, 229; M.P. allotted to, 237 ; 
V. also Friends of the People. 

— Society for the Abolition of Patron- 
age, 36, 40. 

— University, 107, 156. 
Glasgow Courier, the, 87. 
Glasgow Sentinel, the, 232. 
Godwin's Political Justice, 156. 
Goldsmiths' Hall Association, the, 

103-4, 109, 116, 117, i2on, 133, 198. 
Gordon, Lord Adam, Commander-in- 
Chief in Scotland, 82, 83, 95, 96, 

Gordon riots, the, 6. 

Greenock, 22in, 229n, 237. 

Grey, Charles (afterwards 2nd Earl 

Grey), 79, 109, 126, 129, 136, 235. 
Guilds Merchant, 33, 225. 

Habeas Corpus Act, suspension of the, 

141, 149, 189, 223. 
Haldane, James, 205-213. 
Haldane, Robert, 60, 205-213. 
Hamburg, 169, i92n. 
Hamilton, Lord Archibald, 224, 226. 
Hamilton, Mrs. Elizabeth, cited, xviii. 
Hampden Club, the, 219, 221. 

Hardle, Andrew, trial of, 229. 

Hardy or Hardie, Rev. T. : his Prin- 
ciples of Moderation, 37, 40 ; his 
Patriot, 117. 

Hardy, Thomas, secretary of the Lon- 
don Corresponding Society, 79, 
io6», 152, i55n. 

Hastie, Archibald, i66n, 221. 

Havannah, 172. 

Hawick, 199. 

Highland Society, the, 84, 115. 

Highlands, the : emigration from, 83, 
84, 88, 99 ; oppression of tackmen 
in, 88 ; diffusion of political know- 
ledge in, 141 ; expected to welcome 
the French, 176 ; Fencible Corps 
raised in, 182 ; missions to, 207, 210. 

Hill, Rev. George, 6gn, 103, i6on, 

Hill, Rowland, 208. 
Historical Register, the, 75, 80, 88. 
Hoche, General, 169. 
Hope, Charles, Lord Advocate, 214. 
Horner, Francis, 157, 216, 236. 
Hume, David, xv, xvi, 15, 16, 60, 172, 

Hunt, " Orator," 227n. 
Hutcheson, Francis, cited, 202. 

Impress Warrants, 91, 158. 
Invasion, chap, viii, passim; 214. 
Inverkeithing, 20, 21. 
Inverness, 8, 20, 225. 
Iron works, Scottish, 62. 

Jackson, William, 166, 168. 
Jacobin Club, Paris, 90, loi, 161-2, 

Jacobite Risings, the, xv, 5, 42, 62, 

Jameson, Mr., 186. 

Jefferson, Thomas, ii^n. 

Jeffrey, Francis : at Muir's trial, 135 ; 
forbidden to attend Millar's or 
Stewart's lectures, 156 ; discouraged, 
157 ; a founder of the Edinburgh 
Review, 216; offends the Earl of 
Lauderdale, 217; advises the cotton 
spinners, 218; Lord Advocate, 235; 
political opinions of, 236 ; and the 
Reform Bill, 237. 

Jervis, Admiral, 172. 

Johnston, Captain, a " Friend of the 
People," i23n, i28n. Appendix A, 



Judicature Act, the, 231. 

Juries : lack of, in civil cases, 48, 99, 

157; how chosen, 132. 
Jury Acts, the, 230-231, 233. 

Kellie, Earl of, i3n. 

Kennedy, Thomas F., M.P., 230, 231, 

234. 235. 
Kersaint, Armand, 135, 163. 
Kilbarchan, 222n. 
Kilmarnock, 92, 223. 
Kilsyth, 229. 
Kincardine, io6n. 
Kinghorn, zi/^n. 
Kirkcudbright, 2. 
Kirkintilloch, 92, 115, iiyn, 181. 
Kirriemuir, 6^n, 187. 

Lafayette, 62, 130, 238. 

Laing, Malcolm, 59, 72. 

Lanark, 81, 82, 22in. 

Lansdowne, Lord, 234. 

Lapslie, Rev. James, 196. 

Lauderdale, Earl of, 49^, 79, 136, 139, 

177, 217. 
Leadhills, 64. 
Le Brun, 165. 

Leeds Corresponding Society, 137. 
Leith, 97. 

Leslie, Alexander, 185, i88m. 
Levellers and Republicans, Association 

against, 103, 116. 
Liberty, Cap of, 226^. 
Linen manufacture, 62. 
" Literati," the, xviii, 15, 37W. 
Liverpool, Lord, 234. 
Locke, John, 6, 16. 
Lockhart, J. G., cited, 30, 31. 
Logan, John : his Runnamede, 4. 
London, 5, 74, 103, 115, 119, 149, 168, 

170, 187, 189, 222 ; V. also Friends 

of the People. 
London Corresponding Society, the, 

79y 90, 93, 106, 133, 135, 137, 138, 

145. 149. 151. 152, 158, i66w, 185-6, 

189, 190, 192^. 
London Gazette, the, 43. 
London Missionary Society, the, 205. 
London Revolution Society, the, 44, 

53. 71- 

Lords-lieutenants, appointed in Scot- 
land, 148. 

Loughborough, Lord Chancellor, 25, 

Louis XVL, 130, 147, i48n, 164. 

Macgrugar, Thomas : his Letters of 

Zeno, 16, 17, 18. 
Machiavelli, 6, 16. 
Mackenzie, Sir George, 58. 
Mackenzie, P., biographer of Thomas 

Muir, i72n, 177)1, 228W, 236. 
M'Kinlay, Andrew, trial of, 223-4. 
Mackintosh, James : cited, 51 ; career 

of, 56-7 ; his Vindiciae Gallicae, 

57-60, 61, 71, I22M. 

M'Laren, Alexander, trial of, 223. 

Macleod, Gilbert, 230. 

Macleod, Colonel Norman, M.P. : 
joins the Friends of the People, 92W ; 
visits the Edinburgh Society, 96 ; 
cashiered, io6n ; his regiment re- 
ported to be spreading sedition, 113 ; 
his Letters to the Friends of the 
People, 119-120; visits the Edin- 
burgh societies, 122 ; presents their 
petition, 126; letter to the Lord 
President, 132^2 ; disapproves of the 
British Convention, 141 ; opposes 
the Treason Bill, 159 ; to be a mem- 
ber of the " Scotch Directory," 177. 

Maconochie, Alexander, Lord Advo- 
cate, 221-6. 

Manchester Church and King Club, 

Margarot, Maurice : at the British 
Convention, 127W, 138, 140, 141, 
155W; trial of, 142-5; French Ad- 
miralty ordered to save, I46n, 167 ; 
supposed correspondence with the 
French, i66w ; returns from Botany 
Bay, 219; visits Scotland, 219; 
death of, 219W. 

Maxwell, Sir William, 95, 99W. 

Mealmaker, George, 147W ; trial of, 

Medals, revolutionary, 91, 95, 113, 

Melville, Viscount, v. Dundas, Henry 

and Robert. 
Mengaud, Citoyen, a French spy, 168- 


Militia, English, called out, loi. 

Militia Act: demand for, 41, 178-9; 
Act of 1797, 179; opposition to, 176, 
178-185, 187. 

Millar, Professor John, 5, 15, 49, 71, 
107, 129, 156. 

Millar, John, Jr., a " Friend of the 
People," 72, 106-111, 122, 157, Ap- 
pendix A, passim. 



Milton, John, 58. 

Minto, Lord, 234. 

Mirabeau, 43n, 54, 55. 

Missions, home and foreign, 204-213. 

Moderates, the: pohcy of, 35, 194; 
triiiinph of, 39 ; attitude to the Test 
Act, 6^n ; creed of, 195 ; failure of, 
201-204; and missions, 205. 

Moncreiff, Sir Henry, 68, 205. 

Moniteur, the, cited, 173. 

Montesquieu, 16, 17, 42, no, i75n. 

Montgomery, Lord Chief Baron, 127. 

Montrose, 53, 56, 93n, 12412, 22in, 
225, 226n. 

Montrose, Duchess of, 182. 

Moodie, Rev. R., iiyn, 20211, 2ion. 

Moray, 7, 8. 

Morthland, a " Friend of the People," 
96, 106-111, Appendix A, passim, 
122 ; and the Tranent riot, 181, 183. 

Muir, Thomas : vice-president of the 
Glasgow Friends of the People, 92 ; 
visits the Edinburgh Society, 96; 
and the burgh reformers, 105 ; his 
early career, 106-107 ; at the Con- 
vention of the Friends of the People, 
106-111, Appendix A, passim; ar- 
rested and liberated on bail, 114-5 ; 
in London, 115, 129; in Paris, 130, 
163 ; outlawed, 130 ; visits Dublin, 
131; arrested, 131; his trial, 131-4 ; 
sympathy for, 135, 136, 137, 14011 ; 
his trial discussed in Parliament, 
136 ; his removal from Edinburgh 
urged, 139; French Admiralty 
ordered to save, 146, 167 ; his fate 
a warning, 157 ; escapes from 
Botany Bay, 135, 172 ; his adven- 
tures, 172-3 ; welcomed in France, 

173- 4; his memorials on Scotland, 

174- 6 ; to be a member of a " Scotch 
Directory," 177; death of, 177: 
Lapslie rewarded for securing evi- 
dence against, 196 ; medal repre- 
senting, 185W ; his memory recalled, 
236n, 238. 

Municipal Reform Act, 226. 

Nairn, 18, 23. 

Nasmyth, Alexander, 155. 

Necker, 43n, 54. 

Nepean, Sir Evan, 94, 95. 

New Lanark, 63. 

" New Lights," the, 200. 

Newspapers, Scottish : on the French 

Revolution, 43-4; "fettered," 48, 
58 ; demand for, 66 ; growth of, 
86-7, 231 ; supported by Govern- 
ment, 116. 

Newton Douglas, 116. 

Nore, mutiny at the, 170. 

North, Lord, 5, 25, ^yn. 

O'Coigley, James, 189, 190, i9in. 
O'Connor, Arthur, 189, 190, 191M. 
" Old Lights," the, 200. 
Ossian, 171, i72n. 
Oswald, Colonel, 165, 168. 
Oswald, John, 161-2. 
Oyer and Terminer, Commissions of, 
150, 229. 

Paine, Thomas : his Rights of Man, 
60, 61-62, 66, 67, 71, 78, 79, 80, 
82, 86, 89, 95, 98, 103, 113, 115, 
117, 121, 122, 125, 133, 134, i85n, 
207, 238; his Age of Reason, 194-5. 

Paisley, 63, 73, 120, 150, 159, i79n, 
i9in, 22in, 226, 229, 237 ; v. also 
Friends of the People. 

Palmer, Rev. T. F., a " Friend of the 
People," 98, 122, 123, Appendix A, 
passim ; arrested, 129 ; trial of, 135, 
i39> 187 ; French Admiralty ordered 
to save, i46n ; death of, 2i9n. 

" Parchment Barons," 9-10, 237. 

Paris, 55, 56, 119, 130, 163, 169, 171, 

173. i95> 196. 

Pathhead, 124. 

Patriot, Hardy's, 117. 

Patriot's Weekly Chronicle, the, 120. 

Patronage Act : agitation for the re- 
peal of, 34-40 ; evils of, 202-3. 

Peddie, Rev. J., 103W, 198, 20in. 

Peebles, 8in. 

Peers, Scottish, reform of the repre- 
sentation of, 12-13. 

Penicuik, 140. 

Pension List, the, 117. 

Perth, 21, 63, 67, 78, 81, 96, I02M, 
124, 129, 187^, 188, 220, 22in, 237; 
V. also Friends of the People. 

Peterhead, 64. 

P^try, Citoyen, 164-5. 

Pitt, William, the Younger : in office, 
5 ; supports Parliamentary reform, 
6, 18, 19, 25, 26 ; Scottish reformers 
apply to, 23 ; relations of Dundas 
with, 24, 25, 31 ; on the Test Act, 



68 ; supports the abolition of slavery, 
78 ; and the Proclamation against 
seditious writings, 79; correspon- 
dence with Dundas, 94, 95, loi, 102, 
150, 198 ; Hardy's Patriot sent to, 
117W; consulted as to R. Dundas, 
I40W ; suspends the Habeas Corpus 
Act, 149 ; popular indignation 
against, 158, 165 ; to be driven from 
office, 166 ; Wilberforce remon- 
strates with, 212; his example fol- 
lowed, 222 ; his policy recalled, 237. 

Place, Francis, 15211, 186, 189, 190. 

Poker Club, the, xviii. 

Police, Scottish Board of, 3. 

Political Progress of Britain. Callen- 
der's, 88, 113. 

Political Register, Cobbett's, 231. 

Political Review of Edinburgh Periodi- 
cal Publications, the, 87. 

Popular Party, the, 35, 37, 39, 195, 
204, 205. 

Porteous, Rev. W., 201 w, 207M, 208. 

Port-Glasgow, 229W. 

Portland, Duke of, 180, 181, 185. 

Portsoy, 71. 

Prestonpans, 181. 

Price, Rev. Dr., 14, 54, 68. 

Priestley, Dr., 60, 68, 71, 98, 211. 

Principles of Moderation, Hardy's, 37. 

Proclamation against Seditious Writ- 
ings, the, 67, 79-80, 87. 

Proofs of a Conspiracy, Robison's, 

ProphHie Republicaine, 167. 
Pulteney, William, M.P., 27n, 103, 
104, 198. 

Quarterly Review, the, 217. 
Quigley, James, 189, 190, igm. 

" Radical War," the, 226-9. 

Rae, Sir William, Lord Advocate, 227, 

229, 230, 231, 232, 235. 
Ramsay of Ochtertyre, John, 3 in, 64, 

Reeves, John, 103. 
Reform Bill, the, 236-8. 
Reform Jubilee, the, 237. 
Reform. : Parliamentary, 5, 6, 8, 19, 

26, 108, 126 ; V. also Friends of 

the People. 

— Scottish Burgh, 14, 16-24, 26, 33, 

41 » 74-7. 104; 126, 225-6. 

— Scottish County, 6-12, 106, 127-8. 

Reform of Scottish Peerage Representa- 
tion, 12-13. 

Reid, Thomas, xv, 60, 75W, 155. 

Relief Church, the, 198, 200, 210-11. 

Revolution of 1688, centenary of the, 

Richmond, Alexander, a spy, 221, 

Rights of Man, Paine's, v. Paine. 

Robertson, Principal : xvi ; and pat- 
ronage, 35, 39, 40; 4in, 49, 52, 
i2on, 172, 175, 195. 

Robespierre, 166. 

Robison, Professor J., 211. 

Rockingham Ministry, the, 2, 3, 12, 

Roman Catholics : Relief Bill for, 6, 
34» 39. 4i» 77> 196; State aid to, 

Romilly, Sir Samuel, 135. 

Rosebery, Lord, cited, 192. 

Ross, county of, 10, 81, 82, 83, 84n. 

Rothesay, 20. 

Rousseau, i75n, 204. 

Rowan, A. Hamilton, i4on. 

Royal Martyr, Fyfe's, 147. 

Runnamede, Logan's, 4. 

Scheldt, the, loi, 124, 128. 
Scots Chronicle, the, 181, 183, 184. 
Scots Magazine, the, cited, 3, 6. 
Scotsman, the, 231. 
Scott, Alexander, 142. 
Scott, Sir W^alter, i48n. 
Seceders, the, 35, 40, 103, 197-201, 

Secret Service Fund, the, 116-7. 
Seditious Meetings Bill, 158. 
Select Society, the, xviii. 
Selkirk, ii6w, 125. 
Sempill, Hugh, Lord, io6n, i77n. 
Sheep riots, 81, 82, 83, 84n. 
Sheffield Corresponding Society, 137, 

Sheridan, R. B., 24, 74, 76-7, 79, 126, 
136, 159- 

Sheriffs Principal, appointed in Scot- 
land, 148. 

Sidmouth, Viscount, 216, 218, 224, 
225, 226n, 229, 231. 

Sieyes, 54. 

Sinclair, Charles, 142, 177. 
Sinclair, John, 125. 
Six Acts, the, 227. 

Skirving, William, a " Friend of the 



People," 108, Appendix A, passim; 

123, 125, i3on, 137-8, 140, 141; 

trial of, 142 ; death of, 2ign. 
Slave Trade, agitation against the, 67, 

77-8, 88. 
Smith, Adam, xvi, 2n, 15, 16, 88. 
Smith, James, 130M. 
Smith, Sydney, 216. 
Somerville, Rev. T., i, 31, 49, 52, 

68-70, 78, 194, 203. 
Sommerville, James, 125. 
Southey, Robert, 145. 
Speculative Society, the, 57, 156. 
Spirit of the Union, the, 230, 231. 
St. Andrews, 116, 156, 221W. 
Stewart, Professor Dugald, 15, 49, 

156, 217. 

Stirling, 18, 116, 124, 125, 146, 22in, 

Stranraer, 131. 
Strathaven, 147, 152, 182. 
Strikes, Scottish, 64, 65, 97, 99, 155, 

.Stuart of Dunearn, James, 232. 
Sunday Schools, 207, 208, 209, 212. 

Tandy, Napper, 174. 
Test Act, repeal of the, 67-70, 72, 117, 

Thomas the Rhymer, 147. 
Thomson, Thomas, 157. 
Tone, T. Wolfe, 167-8, 170, 171, 174, 

Tooke, Horne, 57, 98. 

Trade, increase of Scottish, 42, 62-3. 

Trade Incorporations, 33, 36, 73. 

Tranent, riot at, 180-1, 183, 184. 

Treason Bill, the, 158. 

Tree of Liberty, 96, 97n, 98, 145, 182. 

Trials, State, chap, vi, passim, 142-6, 

150-153. 183-4. 188-9, 193. 223-4, 

229, 230. 

Tytler, James, trial of, 112, 115W, 132. 

Union, the (1707) : economic results of, 
XV ; to abolish place-hunting, xvii ; 
first addresses after, 3 ; political agi- 
tation completes, 8 ; parliamentary 
representation at, 9 ; peerage repre- 
sentation fixed at, 12; repeal of the 
Test Act a violation of, 69 ; Ker- 
saint's view of, 163 ; Citoyen Men- 

gaud on, 170 ; Muir's account of, 

Unitarians, Scottish, 54, 122, 197^. 
United Britons, the, igm. 
United Englishmen, Society of, 189- 

United Irishmen, Society of : address 
to the Scottish Friends of the People, 
108, 114, 133, Appendix A, passim; 
Muir a member of, 131 ; R. Dundas 
insults, i4on ; French agent sent to, 
166 ; envoys sent to the French 
Directory, 167-8, 169; Muir's 
articles on behalf of, 174 ; Highland 
regiments refuse to fire on, 176 ; re- 
lations with " United " in Britain, 
186-192 ; its organisation adopted in 
Scotland, 222. 

United Scotsmen, Societies of, 185-193, 

Varennes, 70. 
Vera Cruz, 172. 

Voluntaryism, adopted by Seceders, 

Volunteers, the, 148, 153-4, i79> 182, 
183, 193, 206, 2i2n, 214. 

Wallace, Sir William, 171. 

Warneck, G., cited, 204. 

Watson, Robert, 171, igin. 

Watt, Robert : a spy, 89, 90, 95, 123 ; 
conspiracy of, 150-153 ; 178, i87n, 
192, 229 ; trial of, 150-3. 

Wellington, Duke of, 234, 235. 

Whithorn, 22. 

Wigtown, 21, 64, 66, io6n. 

Wilberforce, William, 23, 77, 207, 212. 

Wilde, Professor John, 3n, 52*1, 59. 

Wilkes, John, xvii, xviii, 7, 8. 

Wilson, Alexander, poet, 121. 

Wilson, James, trial of, 229. 

Wilson, Thomas, a " United Scots- 
man," 193. 

Windham, William, 79, i67n. 

Wodrow, Robert, cited, 42, 

Woolcr's Gazette, 226, 227n, 231. 

Wordsworth, William, 121. 

Wyvill, Christopher, 7, 8. 

Yorkshire Committee, the, 5-8, 14, 17. 
Young, Rev, John, 199. 
Younger, John, 2i5n. 









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Boston College 
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